This guide is intended to cover many different situations, use your head and decide what is appropriate for your situation. Learn something about the law as the police are easily intimidated by someone who looks as if they know what they’re doing and hardly ever do anything strictly by the book. At too many actions the police are grabbing a few people trumping up some ridiculous charge and getting away with it because people aren’t aware of the law or their rights. Remember if you plead not guilty and say nothing you can change your plea and sort your case out later with proper advice and time to think.
Q: IF I KEEP WITHIN THE LAW I WON’T GET ARRESTED, RIGHT?
Wrong, if you are going on actions you take a risk of being arrested. Don’t be naive, a lot of prison population is innocent. Watch the news - they lock innocent people up every day. Prisons aren’t there to protect the public, they are there to control the public.
Q: SO HOW DO I AVOID GETTING ARRESTED?
Cut your hair, wear a suit and get a job, preferably as a copper. The best disguise for a thug or a thief is a uniform. If this solution doesn’t suit you then be aware, avoid having you name or face appear in the media, don’t brag about anything illegal, use first names or a different name, and when you’re on an action COVER YOUR FACE, don’t get isolated, take a camera , watch the police and always have at least one escape route in case they charge.
The police will make the assumption that one or a few individuals are the instigators or troublemakers and will try to intimidate or isolate this group. One tactic is to send officers into a crowd to stand at points around the loudest part of a protest, slowly these officers will be reinforced and will draw their noose tighter around the group they want to arrest. Keep looking over your shoulder and keep moving.
Before a police charge the police will stage a ‘show of strength’ which is easy to spot, vans will have been off loading police at strategic positions and then, when ready, they’ll move into sight of the crowd and pause before they are given the order to charge.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I GET ARRESTED ?
When you are arrested, you will be taken to a police station. You will be asked your name address and date of birth (If you are over 21 you don’t have to give your date of birth). You also don’t have to give your real name unless you are under oath and in a court, tell a mate the name your going to use before the action and have them near a phone to verify it and the address you’ve given.
Your personal belongings will be taken from you. These are listed on the custody record and usually you are asked to sign that the list is correct. Sign below the last item, so that the cops cannot add something incriminating to the list. Don’t sign for anything which is not yours or which could be incriminating. You will then be placed in a cell until the police are ready to deal with you.
Q: WHEN CAN I CONTACT MY SOLICITOR ?
You should be able to ring your solicitor as soon as you’ve been arrested. Once at the police station it is one of the first things you should do because:
1. to have someone know where you are
2. to show the cops your not going to be a soft target.
If you can, avoid using the duty solicitor they are often in league with the cops and often encourage people to plead guilty before bothering to hear their case, use your own. The police are wary of good or unknown solicitors. Avoid telling your solicitor too much for now.
Make sure to tell the solicitor that you are going to use your right to silence. Your solicitor can come to the station when the police interview you. Refuse to be interviewed unless your solicitor is present. Remember; they want to prosecute you for whatever charges they put forward. AN INTERVIEW IS A NO WIN SITUATION. For your benefit the only thing you should say is “NO COMMENT”.
Q: WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS IN THE POLICE STATION? REMEMBER YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.
The police should give you a copy of their code of practice after they have filled in your custody record. Ask for a pen and pencil, write down all the names of the cops you come into contact with and keep a record of your time in custody. Demand everything you should get cups of tea, food, etc., if it wastes their time it will mean they'll want to get rid of you.
Q: WILL THEY BEAT ME UP?
Probably not. The police will try to intimidate you but usually don’t want to use force, it doesn’t look good for them if you appear in court beaten black and blue. It is also an effort and a risk for them. If the police are acting heavy then ask to see the police doctor on some excuse and they will write a note that you are in good health which you should give to your solicitor. If they do beat you up go straight to a doctor when you get out and get your injuries recorded.
Q: WHY DO THE POLICE WANT ME TO ANSWER QUESTIONS?
If the police have enough evidence to convict you, then they will not need to interview you. So an interview shows that you’re in a good position. It means they want you to admit a ‘crime’ or someone else’s part in a ‘crime’. So don’t say anything but ‘NO COMMENT’.
The police want to arrest you because it makes them look as if they’re doing something to solve ‘crime’. They want to increase their ‘clear up rate’ so as to be seen to be doing their job. You just have to look at the activities of the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad to understand how far the police can go get a conviction.
Q: WILL THEY TAKE MY FINGER PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPH?
Under criminal law they have the right to take your finger prints and to use reasonable force but they don’t have the right to take your photo. When you wash your hands before they take your prints leave some soap on your fingers, push down hard on the card as they take them and this will spoil the prints. They may get stroppy but they may, especially if they are busy, not bother. Keep stalling and waste their time and they may well give up.
From the moment you go into the police station keep your face covered. Under the PACE law of 1986 they can’t use force so they will use trickery. Sleep with your face covered and always be prepared to cover your face if they jump out with a camera. It sounds stupid but they really do do this.
Q: WHO DESPISED WHETHER THEY GO AHEAD WITH PROSECUTING ME?
The police have to present their evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service before you can be brought to court. A copy of your evidence will be sent to your solicitor. Evidence usually rests on small points which is why it is so important not to give anything away in custody. The only place to explain anything is in court, it is what happens in court that matters. Here anything you said in your interview will be used against you, so don’t even get caught up in small talk. If the case against you is insufficient it will be thrown out. Often the police will drop the charges against you before court if their case looks weak.
Q: WHAT CAN I DO IF ONE OF MY FRIENDS OR FAMILY HAS BEEN ARRESTED?
There is a great deal you can do from the outside.
1) If you know what name they’re using, as soon as you think they’ve been arrested ring the police station. Ask whether they are being held there and on what charges.
2) Inform a solicitor.
3) Remove anything from the arrested persons house which the police might find interesting, letters, address books, ID etc.
4) Don’t get drawn in to telling the police something they don’t know.
5) Take food or cigarettes to the police station for your friend. Any contact with friends will boost the confidence of the prisoner. Don’t go to the police station if you run the risk of getting arrested yourself.
The police will lay off a prisoner if they have visible support from outside. A good loud demo outside the police station is the best support the prisoner can have. It is best to keep all contact with the police friendly, winding them up won’t do your friend any good; being there will. Turn up at court as well, for most cases courts are practically empty, even a few friendly faces helps the defendant and will keep the court on it’s toes.