Left Behind

When you first hear that your loved one has been taken into custody you will feel devastated, there’s no getting around it. Whether they are arrested at home and your house is searched by officers, or whether you receive a phone call telling you what’s happened, it is most likely that the place the person lives in will be searched, possibly possessions will be taken away. Although in shock it helps in the future if you can take the investigating officers name’s and ask for a list of the possessions they have taken.

The first thing you will want to do is arrange for legal help, if you don’t have a solicitor, one will be provided at the police station when requested. It helps here to keep in touch with the solicitor as they will be able to tell you what’s happening straight away. It is likely if they are detained for longer than 24 hours that you will be allowed to take extra clothes and toiletries in for them, although it is unlikely you will be able to see them at this time. Be aware that at any time if you are asked to give a statement or interview relating to the offence, you do not have to unless you are being charged. If you are being charged you are entitled to have legal assistance with you at the time of the interview. In my experience the police asked me for a friendly chat – off the record and then sat and made notes throughout without explaining what they were doing. They may also ask you to sign these notes, and you are within your rights to refuse. It is possible that you may be asked to give a mouth swab for DNA testing, again you are within your rights to refuse unless under arrest.

A person can be held in custody after arrest for up to 72 hours, after which the police can either release them, apply to the magistrates court for a further 24 hours or charge the person. At this time you can phone the investigating officer in charge of the case for details or the custody Sergeant who will pass on any important messages.

If not released on bail your loved one will be charged and remanded in custody until their case comes to trial.

This is a hugely devastating experience for any family member, it is a time when you seem to go into shock, and the world seems to slow down as you try to take in what has happened. Your emotions will be raw, many people describe this as a roller coaster in that your either up or down but never seem to spend much time level! This unfortunately is something that prisoners families have to learn to adjust to, as it carries on through the remand, court and sentencing process.

You will have thoughts racing through your head, worrying about the person in custody, maybe concern about how other family members will take the news and when to break it to them. Employers and schools have to be notified if necessary, even benefit agencies if you receive benefits or your partner does at your address you must notify these people straight away. Other issues you don’t need to address straight away would be banks, stopping direct debits or payments, most banks will be helpful and put the account on hold until an outcome is reached. Or you can apply to take control of your loved ones accounts until their release, you will need written confirmation from the account holder to do this.