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Your right to remain silent – what are UK Miranda Rights?

In recent years, distrust in the police has grown, almost reaching a fever point last year after the murder of Sarah Everard by Wayne Couzens, a Met police officer, and the tone-deaf mismanagement of the vigil that followed. A YouGov poll from late 2021 found that almost half of all people surveyed had lost faith in the police to carry out their duties, with those still confident in them firmly in the minority of the population.

Unsurprisingly, public interest in your rights when being arrested has exploded, and many are curious about the UK Miranda Rights. It’s more important than ever to know what your rights are and what behaviour is – and isn’t – acceptable when dealing with the police to protect yourself from harm to yourself or your reputation.

What is the UK Version of Miranda Rights?

The Miranda Warning, popularised in films and television and used by the US police force, states – “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will and can be used against you in a court of law.” It entered into use in the late 1990s, following the Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court case, before which the right to remain silent was dubious.

The UK Miranda Rights is referred to as the ‘Police Caution’. After a suspect is placed under arrest they must have the police caution recited to them, which goes as follows:

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

While the specific wording has varied over the years, the police caution has been in use for years, with its earliest version believed to have originated in the 17th century. It was initially introduced to prevent force and brutality from coercing a response out of an individual.

In recent years it’s been used to prevent anyone from incriminating themselves whilst being questioned by the police. If you are unsure how to respond to a question, you legally do not have to answer, though there may be consequences to declining to comment.

By law, anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. As you don’t have to prove that you didn’t commit any crime, there is hypothetically no need to answer any questions during the arrest and trial process. However, your silence can be used as an admission of guilt if you:

  • Refuse to answer any questions asked by police
  • Decline to mention something you later rely on in court
  • Fail to account for objects in your possession
  • Can’t account for your presence in a particular location
  • Refuse to testify at trial

A jury cannot convict you of a crime based solely on silence, and the court must stipulate what the jury can infer from your declining to respond.

There are some notable exceptions to the right to remain silent. If you are questioned by the Serious Fraud Office, your right to silence has been reduced by virtue of Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987. If you are accused of terrorist offences, then the right to silence is waived in regular police interviews and failing to respond when questioned is punishable by up to six months imprisonment.

What are my rights when being arrested?

The Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984 provides the legal framework that dictates how police officers can conduct themselves in the field. Any failure to comply can result in civil action claims and inadmissible evidence in court.

When placing someone under arrest, there are two limbs of section 24 of the PACE Act which must be met – police can arrest you without a warrant provided they have honest and reasonable grounds to believe that a person is guilty of a crime and that the arrest is absolutely necessary.

When you are placed under arrest, there are three points police must convey to you as soon as practicable:

  1. They have to inform you that you are being arrested
  2. They need to inform you of what crime you are being arrested for
  3. They have to explain the necessity of arresting you

The police should dictate these to you as soon as practicable, and the UK Miranda Rights or police caution usually follows them. The police officer must ensure you understand and arrange for a translator or support should you have trouble with what they are relaying to you.

If you resist arrest, try to escape, or become violent, they can legally use reasonable force to take you down and arrest you. The bare minimum force needed to stop you is the only acceptable amount to use – if police exceed that, it could be considered police brutality.

When you arrive at the police station, you will be searched and held in a cell until further notice. Without a charge, the police can only hold you for 24 hours unless one of the extension powers are used. The arresting officer should provide you with a written notice of your rights, available in your preferred language.

You have the right to contact someone and tell them where you are. If you require medical treatment or medication, this must be provided to you. You have the right to view the codes of practice that the police must abide by. Arguably most importantly, you have the right to access free legal advice. If you decline this in the first instance, you can change your mind at any time and legal advice has to be provided.

HNK Solicitors can help you in your civil claim against the police

HNK Solicitors are experts in civil action claims against the police and have years of experience helping people who were mistreated by the police force. With our dedicated department for action against the police, we are equipped to take on your case, get you the compensation you deserve, and get your life back on track.

Get in touch with us today to arrange your free consultation. We offer a no-win, no-fee service, so you won’t pay a penny upfront. Give us a call on 0151 668 0816, email us at enquiries@hnksolicitors.com or fill out the enquiry form on our website, and we can get started on your case today.

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