In many cases you will feel perfectly able to walk into the police station and open a dialogue with the desk staff. If not, then you’ll have to skulk around outside and rely on the solicitor to keep you informed. Remember that the desk staff are human beings, and will hopefully respond to you.
Be nice and they might be nice back – but do be prepared – sometimes it can be very difficult to get any information or any co-operation at all from the front desk. The police might even lie to you.
But be confrontational and you may condemn your friends to several hours more detention (yes it does happen!) or even face arrest yourself.
If the police do co-operate, try to find out and make a note of anything you don’t already know:
- Who they are holding?
- Are they OK?
- Are they being charged?
- What they are charged with?
- Any indication of a release time?
Some arrestees will choose not to give their name to police officers, so don’t ask about individual people in custody unless you are sure of what alias they have given, if at all.
You can also try to get ‘treats’ (chocolate, cigarettes, etc), newspapers, books or dry clothes to arrestees, but this
is up to the police station staff. Be nice and don’t show your annoyance if they refuse. If you know the arrestee personally, you might want to use this opportunity to make sure the police know about people’s dietary & medical needs.
Ask the police to make sure that they release people into your care and not out of a side exit! Though don’t be shocked if they say they’ll do that and then do the opposite.