Written By: CAGEsisters
If you, your husband or a member of your family are arrested under terrorism legislation, stay as calm and as in control as you can. CAGEsisters insist that you should not panic or lose hope. It’s easy to get arrested, but it’s harder to get charged with any offence. So ensure you stay calm, take a breath and be patient. The information below should help prepare you for what to expect.
- There has been an increase in police raids and arrests for terrorism related matters. Those most impacted are Muslim men in particular, but also women either alone or alongside their partners. Of these arrests, only 6% have resulted in a conviction.
- These arrests, and their subsequent publicity, are used to profile the Muslim community. In order for the police to maintain targets they have to be seen to be taking a proactive approach and increase arrests. Essentially enabling them to keep their jobs through the perceived “threat” of terrorism.
Police at your home
- Sometimes officers can be quite friendly, they will will knock on your door to give you the warrant. This warrant is something that they require in order to search your property and in some instances to arrest you.
- Even if police officers appear friendly and seem to ask questions which are not related to the case, you should still remain cautious. Always ensure you are polite yet careful what you say, especially when you have not sought legal advice.
- Some arrests are very intimidating and officers can come unexpectedly e.g. early in the morning, they may even wear masks or carry guns. They may bang on the door and shout before they tell you why they are there. They will be there either to search your property, and/or to arrest you for a specific offence. Ensure that you:
– stay calm,
– remain polite,
– try to comply with what is asked of you, and
– are extremely careful what you say.
- This sight may well be intimidating, but they are not allowed to physically hurt you.
- Whilst under arrest, you have the right to remain silent. Everyone has the right to a solicitor. We cannot emphasise this enough – before speaking with any officer or answering any questions you must speak to your solicitor first. It would be most preferable if you have a solicitor’s contact details to hand at all times. Contact CAGE for more information on solicitors.
- If you ever feel pressurised to answer a question, ALWAYS refer to your solicitor. You can ask the police if you want to speak with your solicitor in private. This is a way of showing the officers that you have representation and it may prevent them from behaving in a bad manner. Keep the solicitor as a bridge between yourself and the police.
- Remain cautious of “innocent” chitchat. The police can use these seemingly harmless chats for the purpose of profiling and intelligence gathering, and can even be used to build a case against you or a family member. Our advice is to not to speak at all whilst ensuring you remain polite. You can use phrases like: “I will speak to you but will only do so after I have spoken to my solicitor, or only once my solicitor is present.”
- There may be additional powers the police have, such as searching your person or your house. But it depends on the warrant. Please check this carefully, and for more information on warrants see this article.
- When under arrest, you will not be allowed to touch any of your electronic devices and your right to call your solicitor may only be allowed once you are at the Police Station.
- Should you need to use the bathroom, you may be accompanied by an officer (usually male or female depending on your gender). While you are in the toilet, the officer will stand there to make sure you don’t pose any threat to their safety.
- If children are present at the time of the arrest, the children’s welfare should be a priority. It can be very upsetting and traumatic for a child to see his/her parents be taken from the home. Reassure them that it will all be alright and try to arrange for a relative to take care of them while you are away. If you have no relatives, perhaps a friend. Ensure your children are with someone trusted in order to avoid the need for social services.
At the police station
- Once at the police station, you will be asked your name, date of birth, address and will be asked who your solicitor is; it is at this point that you can call your solicitor. Sometimes, they may call him/her for you. We recommend you have a solicitor’s contact details to hand. If you do not have a solicitor the police will contact a duty solicitor for you.
- You will then be escorted to your temporary cell. This can be quite daunting and often people start to panic, it can be intimidating. Make sure you:
– Stay calm.
– Try to lay down if necessary,
– Breathe slowly and deeply as it gives your blood the oxygen need to relax you.
- You will be able to leave this cell once your solicitor arrives. You are entitled to water. Meals will be served depending on the time of day you are detained. You can use the toilet facilities in your cell and can ask for water if you need to wash yourself. You can also be escorted to wash your hands if you request so. Stay polite, it will give you more freedom to get out of your cell.
- While waiting for your solicitor to arrive it is advisable to get some rest or sleep. You can also ask to be given a Qur’an or prayer mat and you should try to take these times of isolation to worship, it will help to calm you down and give you patience.
- You should be aware that these sorts of police station cells usually have cameras, however the camera is facing the bed not the toilet area. For sisters who are arrested, they should be sure to keep their hijab on whilst in this situation.
- The solicitor can deal with all issues and it can take a while for them to come to the police station especially if you are arrested at awkward times. Please try to remain patient and do not despair. There are many possibilities at this stage, you could be released after a short time without any charge. Some people feel a sense of despair and plead guilty to the offences even if they have a reasonable defence or are innocent.
- Ask to call your family members. Those left at home are usually quite distressed wondering what is happening to you. We would also advise you to ask your solicitor to speak to your family in order to reassure them as you may become upset whilst speaking to them.
- Your fingerprints and DNA may be taken at the police station. Again, comply peacefully, this is all part of being arrested. They will take mugshots of you from the front and from the side. For those who wear hijab they may ask you to take your hijab off for these pictures, you do not have to take your hijab off, and should remember that these pictures may become public.
- If you are requested to provide passwords for electronic devices that require them and for emails, you should speak to your solicitor, he/she can advise what is best in your particular case.
- Once your solicitor has arrived, you have the right to speak in private to them at any time. They will be able to negotiate with the police. You should listen to the advice your solicitor gives you, but ultimately it is you that has to make the decisions.
- All interrogation and meeting rooms at the police station are under surveillance. They are either equipped with cameras or microphones. Try not to assume any conversation you have in the police station is completely private.
You should remember:
- You are not helping yourself or your family by talking. The more you talk, the more you give them ammunition which could be used against you.
- The police may also speak to your family members in order to gather intelligence, justify their arrest and build a case against you. Make sure the solicitor is in touch with them.
- The rooms have cameras and tape recording equipment inside, so everything you say can be used as evidence against you.
- Interrogators usually work in pairs (one may ask the questions and one may observe your body language and take notes). They may use different techniques including: intimidating you, pressurising you into talking, claiming you are innocent and that you have nothing to fear, or scaring you with the potential time you could spend in prison if you don’t talk. These are techniques they are trained to use in order to get you to talk, do not hand it to them on a plate.
- Interrogators are highly trained and are sometimes body language experts, so you should be aware of how you hold yourself and how you react to certain questions, your body language can be indicative of certain things and may cause them to ask you further questions due to your reaction. Try and keep calm.
- The officers are not there to help you, please remember there may be a difference between what they say and the reality. They may claim to have a lot of evidence against you – but the reality is that evidence can be challenged and the case may never even make it to court. Do not just assume they have a strong case against you, all evidence can be tested and challenged by your solicitors at a later stage, do not just plead guilty due to pressure from the police.
- Interrogators will try to stir emotions or make you angry in order to get a reaction from you. They may use offensive language or try to make you lose your temper. Do not fall into that trap. They provoke a reaction from you so that you start talking. Try and stay calm and collected, and continue to say no comment (if your solicitor has advised you to) even at ridiculous questions.
- Finally, always remember that police are doing their job, they have targets and roles. They are not your friends, ask yourself – what is their aim? Anything you say can and will be used against you so be cautious and aware of what you say. Do not be fooled by statements that claim your innocence or lines such as “the sooner you speak the sooner you can go home.” These are tactics used by the police for you to open up and feel comfortable and speak freely. Even if you know you haven’t done anything wrong and have nothing to hide, they view you as guilty until proven innocent so be sure to stay vigilant but calm.
For more information on knowing your rights in the event of a raid, and for more statistics regarding terrroism related arrests please visit and follow our Know Your Rights page here. If you, or anyone you know has been raided or arrested and require assistance from us please contact, 0207 377 6700 or email us on email@example.com.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)