Follow what happens when you report a crime to the Police or get arrested and detained in one of the Custody Centres.
Take a tour around a typical Police Station and how a victim would report a crime.
Take the other tour from the perspective of a suspect who has been arrested and taken to a UK Custody Centre.
Please note: Not all police stations look the same in the UK. The Police Station used is one of the oldest in the UK built in the 1800’s.
Click here to view police stations of West Midlands Police on Google Maps.
Most police stations have a yellow telephone or intercom outside the front of the building. The telephone or intercom can be used when the Police Station is closed. There is no need to dial a number as your call will go directly to a police operator.
Most police stations in the UK are open at various times.
You will be greeted by an enquiry officer who will take details to help you report a crime or incident.
If the crime or incident is of a serious nature, you may see the first available police officer.
Less serious crimes may require an officer to contact you with an appointment for a secondary investigation.
When a Police Station is open, you are able to enter the front office and speak to a Police Staff member who will assist you to report a crime.
This officer is writing a statement on your behalf about the crime you were involved with in an interview room. If you are unable to come to the police station, an officer may attend your home address.
A statement you give may lead to what is called a ‘secondary investigation’, where further evidence is collated from potential witnesses and cctv.
Potential suspects may be arrested or interviewed.
A ‘behind the scenes’ view of a Police Officer and Police Staff working area.
In certain circumstances the suspect has to be arrested and taken to their nearest available custody centre to help establish the facts of an alleged crime.
Being handcuffed is required for the safety of the detained person and others, in order to prevent escape and prevent damage to property. Handcuffs are uncomfortable but should not cause injury.
When you arrive at the police station, you are placed into a holding area.
The officer will write your details onto a form and will list the reason for your arrest.
You will be presented to a Custody Sergeant or detention person at the Custody Reception Desk. Their primary role is your welfare and to ensure you are kept safe whilst you return in detention. They have no part in the investigation of the crime you have been allegedly been involved with. All detained persons are searched prior to going into a cell and your personal details are entered on to a computer for later use.
Your property is listed and locked away. These are given back upon your release.
On occasion, items and clothing are taken from you and seized by the police, as they may be linked to the offence that you are suspected of.
Items such as belts and shoelaces are removed personal safety.
On most occasions, your fingerprints and a DNA sample (usually a mouth swab) will be taken from you and checked against the Police National Database.
After you have been searched and your personal details have been taken, you are then placed in a cell. It has a toilet and sink. There is also a Dry Cell with no running water. A CCTV camera will be monitoring you to ensure your safety and wellbeing. If you are waiting in the cell for a long time, food and drink will be given to you. Reading material may be given to you, if requested.
You will never be placed in a cell with another person.
The next stage is an interview in a room. All interviews are audio recorded and, on some occasions, video recorded.
You may need an interpreter if English is not your first language.
Some interviewees request a legal representative. A duty solicitor is available 24 hours a day, who will ensure you are given independent legal advice free of charge.
After the interview, a decision will be made on the case.
These are the following options of what happens next:
1 – Released without charge. This means there is insufficient evidence to proceed with the case.
2 – You are issued with a Community Resolution or Penalty Notice for Disorder. Community Resolution is the resolution of a minor offence, or anti-social behaviour incident, through informal agreement between the parties involved. This is opposed to progression through the traditional criminal justice process.
4 – Released on Police Bail to return to the Police Station at a later date, so that further enquiries can be made by the investigating officers.
Following a charge you will be either released on Court Bail to attend a Court date or, in certain circumstances, you will be remanded in Custody.
Remember that even if you are charged, you will be assumed innocent until proven guilty in a Court of Law.
Depending on the offence, you may have to attend a Magistrates Court for plea hearing, and then a trial if you decide to plead ‘Not Guilty’.
If the case is serious, the Crown Court will be arranged with a jury.
Click here for information for families, friends, and carers when a person is involved with police and criminal justice system. This information is only currently available in English.
Please note: These photographs are staged with the help of officers and staff from Sussex Police, who we would like to thank for their time and support in making this virtual police station and Custody Centre.