Treatment in Custody


After you are arrested, you may be taken into custody in a Garda Station.

When you are in custody, you must be treated with due respect for your personal rights and dignity at all times, and the Gardaí must have regard to any physical or mental disability you may have. There should be no unnecessary delay in dealing with you.

The rules and procedures about how you must be treated while you are in custody are set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody in Garda Síochána Stations) Regulations 1987 and 2006.

Garda duties to give you information

After you have been arrested, the Garda in charge of the station must give you information about:

  • Why you have been arrested
  • Your right to consult a solicitor
  • Your right to tell another person that you are in custody

If you are under 18 years of age, the Garda must tell you that your parents will be informed that you are in custody and asked to come to the Garda station.

Informing others about you

Information about where you are in custody must be given with your consent to:

  • Any solicitor who enquires and
  • Any other person if the Garda in charge of the station is satisfied that the information will not delay the investigation of a crime or make the investigation more difficult

If you are arrested in a Garda District other than the one you live in, the District Headquarters in the district you live in must also be notified.

Garda duty to keep records

The Gardaí must keep a custody record on every person in custody. The Garda in charge of the Garda Station is responsible for the accuracy of all entries in the custody record.

If you are transferred to another Garda Station, the Garda in charge of the station must send the custody record with you.

Do I have the right to consult asolicitor?

If you are 18 years or over and you have asked for a solicitor or that another person be notified, the Garda in charge of the station must notify the solicitor or other person as soon as possible.

If you are under 18 years of age, the Garda in charge of the station concerned will, as soon as possible, inform your parent or guardian that you are in custody, why you are in custody and that you have a right to consult a solicitor.

If you are transferred to another station, your solicitor or other nominated person must be notified of the transfer as soon as possible.

If your solicitor can’t be reached

If the solicitor or other person cannot be contacted within a reasonable time or if the solicitor or other person is unable to or unwilling to attend, you must be given an opportunity to ask for another solicitor or another person.

If you have not had access to a solicitor, and a solicitor who has not been requested is at the station, you must be given the opportunity to consult with the solicitor if you wish.

When the solicitor arrives

You can consult with a solicitor and this meeting must take place in a place where the Gardaí cannot hear what is being said.

Visits and phonecalls

You may receive a visit from a relative, friend or any other person with an interest in your welfare. You can refuse to see someone if you want.

The Garda in charge of the station must be satisfied that the visit can be adequately supervised and will not delay the investigation of a crime or make the investigation more difficult.

You can send a letter or make a telephone call, free of charge if the Garda in charge is satisfied that it will not hinder or delay the investigation of crime. A Garda can listen to the phone call and they can end it. They can also read any letter and refuse to send it.

Before you have a supervised visit or communicate with a person other than your solicitor, you must be informed that anything you say during the visit or in the communication may be given in evidence.

Interviews while in custody

Only 2 Gardaí may question you at any one time. However, up to 4 may be present in the interview room. If an interview lasts longer than 4 hours, you are entitled to have a reasonable break.

A person under 18 years of age cannot be questioned without a parent or guardian being present unless the Garda in charge authorises it.

You have a right to consult a solicitor before you are interviewed.

Almost all interviews are audio-visually recorded and detailed notes are taken by the Gardaí present.


If you are searched by a Garda while you are in custody, they must tell you the reason for the search and they must make sure that it is conducted respectfully.

You must not be searched by a person (other than a doctor) of the opposite sex.

Where a search of your person involves removal of clothing other than headgear or outer clothing, there must be no person of the opposite sex present unless that person is a doctor. However, a person of the opposite sex may be present if the Garda in charge considers it necessary because of your violent behaviour.

Where possible, a search that involves removing your underwear should be carried out by a doctor.

If your clothes or shoes are taken by the Gardaí, you must be given replacements of a reasonable standard.

A record must be made of the search stating the name of the person conducting the search, the names of those present and details of any property taken from or handed over by you.

Fingerprints and other samples

Your fingerprints, photographs, saliva, hair and certain other samples can generally be taken without your consent. Your written consent is required before the following samples can be taken and they must be taken by a doctor or dentist as appropriate:

  • Blood, urine or pubic hair
  • A swab from your genital region or any body opening, other than your mouth
  • A dental impression

The consent must be signed and recorded in the custody record.

Any refusal to provide a DNA or other sample without good reason may be later used in court against you.

General conditions while in custody

You must be allowed reasonable time to rest.

You must be given at least 2 light meals and one main meal in any 24-hour period. You may have meals supplied at your own expense where it is practicable for the Garda to arrange this.

You must have access to toilet facilities.

You will, as far as possible, be held on your own in a cell. Persons of the opposite sex must not be placed in a cell together. A violent person must not be placed in a cell with another person if this can be avoided.

While you are in a cell, a Garda can visit you approximately every 30 minutes. A drunken person or a person under the influence of drugs will be visited and spoken to and if necessary, woken up every 15 minutes for a period of 2 hours or longer if their condition warrants it.

A Garda must always be accompanied when visiting a person of the opposite sex who is alone in a cell.

If you are under the age of 18, you should not be kept in a cell unless there is no other secure accommodation available and, where possible, you will not be placed in a cell with an adult other than an adult relative.


No Garda can subject you to ill-treatment of any kind or the threat of ill-treatment (whether against you, your family or any other person connected with you) or permit any other person to do so.

No Garda can use force against you unless reasonable force is necessary:

  • In self-defence
  • To make sure that you comply with lawful directions
  • To prevent your escape
  • To restrain you from injuring yourself or others, damaging property or destroying or interfering with evidence

If you allege physical ill-treatment, the Garda in charge of the station will arrange for you to be medically examined. However, if you have made the allegation about a Garda, the member in charge of the station may not order the medical examination if they consider the complaint to be frivolous or vexatious.

Medical treatment

The Garda in charge must get a doctor or send you to a hospital if you are:

  • Injured
  • Under the influence of alcohol or drugs and cannot be woken up
  • Unable to respond normally to questions or conversation (not due to the influence of alcohol alone)
  • Suffering from a mental illness
  • In need of medical attention

If you need medication for a heart condition, diabetes, epilepsy or another potentially serious condition, the Garda in charge should get it for you if they think it is necessary.

If you are sent to a hospital, this must be recorded. Any instructions given by a doctor about your medical care and steps to be taken to comply with the instructions should also be recorded.

If you ask to be examined by a doctor of your choice at your own expense, the member in charge of the station must make the necessary arrangements.

If you are removed to hospital, an immediate relative and any other person required to be notified shall be informed.

Page edited: 23 February 2023