Police Station Support Guide

Being arrested and held in police custody is unpleasant. People often appreciate being met by a friendly face when they are released. This is a guide to doing effective police station support.

If you’re organising a protest, it is really helpful to prepare for Police Station Support in advance, even if you think the risk of arrest is low. We can never predict what the police will do. It’s always better to be prepared.

The information you record outside the police station will help Activist Court Aid Brigade (ACAB) support the arrestee, and can make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

This guide contains information about how to prepare for police station support; what to do at the police station; tips on liaising with lawyers and appropriate adults; what information to collect for follow-up support and a guide to some basic First Aid and acute mental health support.

  1. Preparing for Police Station Support in advance
  2. Your role
  3. Why you might end up doing police station support
  4. What to take with you
  5. What we will need to support you
  6. What to do at the police station
  7. Liaising with the solicitor(s)
  8. Liaising with appropriate adults
  9. Meeting arrestees on their release
  10. Collecting information for ongoing support
  11. Once everyone is released or when you’re leaving
  12. Appendix 1: First Aid Kit
  13. Appendix 2: Mental Health Support
  14. Appendix 3: Basic First Aid

You don’t need to go to the police station right away after someone’s been arrested – it usually takes at least an hour for them to be taken to the station and be booked in, before being held, interviewed and released. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re ready and have everything, including people who can take over support during the night or later on, before heading to a station.

If you’re not sure where an arrestee has been taken, ask a Legal Observer if they know and phone the Protest Legal Support Helpline / Legal Back Office for the action, as they may have more information.

This guide is an updated version of the Activist’s Legal Project guide to arrestee support, created collectively by GBC Resources, Activist Court Aid Brigade (ACAB) and Queercare.

Key Messages

  • No Comment
  • You do not need to answer police questions, so don’t.

  • No Personal Details
  • You don't have to give details under ANY stop and search power.

  • No Duty Solicitor
  • Use a recommended solicitor with protest experience.

  • No Caution
  • They admit guilt for an alleged offence that might never get to court.

  • What Power?
  • Ask "What power?" to challenge a police officer to act lawfully.