Treatment in Custody

Information

After you are arrested, you may be taken into custody in a Garda Station. There are rules and procedures as to how you must be treated whilst in custody. These rules and procedures are derived from Criminal Justice Act 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody in Garda Síochána Stations) Regulations 1987 and 2006.

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

Rules

After you have been arrested, you must be informed without delay and in ordinary language by the member in charge of the Garda Station, the following:

  • why you have been arrested (i.e., the offence)
  • that you are entitled to consult a solicitor
  • that you are entitled to notify another person that you are in custody

If you are under 18 years of age, you must be informed that your parent or guardian is being informed and requested to attend at the station.

Custody record

A custody record must be kept in respect of every person in custody. The member in charge of the Garda Station bears responsibility for the accuracy of all entries in the custody record.

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

Notification to solicitor or other persons

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

In both of the above cases, 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 are transferred to another station, your solicitor or other nominated person must be notified of the transfer as soon as possible.

Enquiries

Information about where you are being kept in custody must be given to:

  • any solicitor who enquires if you consent and
  • any other person if you consent and the member in charge of the station is satisfied that the information will not hinder or delay the investigation of crime

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

Visits and communications

You must be given reasonable access to a solicitor of your choice and be allowed to communicate with them privately.

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

A consultation with a solicitor may take place in the sight but out of the hearing of a Garda. You may receive a visit from a relative, friend or any other person with an interest in your welfare, provided that you wish to see the person. The member in charge of the station must be satisfied that the visit can be adequately supervised and will not hinder or delay the investigation of crime.

You may send a letter or make a telephone call of reasonable duration, free of charge to a person if the member in charge is satisfied that it will not hinder or delay the investigation of crime. A Garda may listen to the phone call and may end it and may 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

Only two Gardaí may question you at any one time. However, up to four may be present in the interview room. If an interview lasts longer than four 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 member in charge authorises it.

Since 2014, solicitors have been generally permitted to attend any interviews conducted by An Garda Síochána if you request their attendance.

During the interview, your solicitor will monitor the interview process and may intervene during questioning. This may be to:

  • seek clarification
  • challenge an improper question put to you or the manner in which it was put
  • advise you not to reply to a particular question/(s), or
  • to request suspension of the interview if they wish to give you further legal advice

The solicitor cannot prevent you from answering questions if you choose to do so. They cannot answer questions on your behalf or provide written replies for you to quote.

A solicitor may be required to leave the interview room by the investigator where the solicitor’s approach or conduct prevents or unreasonably obstructs proper questions being put to you, or prevents your response/(s) from being recorded by talking over you or constantly interrupting you when you are trying to respond.

Detailed guidance on this has been published by An Garda Síochána.

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

Searches

If you are searched by a Garda, they must make sure that you understand the reason for the search and ensure that it is conducted with due respect to you.

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 member in charge considers it necessary because of your violent behaviour.

If your clothes or shoes are retained by the Gardaí, you must be supplied with 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 sample without good reason may be later used in court against you.

General conditions of custody

You must be allowed as much time to rest as necessary.

You must be provided with as many meals as are necessary. You must be given at least two 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 be provided with access to toilet facilities.

When it is necessary to put you in a cell, you will, as far as possible, be held on your own in the 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 will 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 roused every 15 minutes for a period of 2 hours or longer if his or her condition warrants it.

A Garda will 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 will not be kept in a cell unless there is no other secure accommodation available and, where practicable, you will not be placed in a cell with an adult other than an adult relative.

Ill-treatment

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 or
  • to restrain you from injuring yourself or others, damaging property or destroying or interfering with evidence

If you allege physical ill-treatment, the member 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

If you

  • are injured
  • are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and cannot be roused
  • fail to respond normally to questions or conversation (not due to the influence of alcohol alone)
  • appear to the member in charge to be suffering from a mental illness or
  • otherwise appear to the member in charge to need medical attention,

the member in charge of the station must summon a doctor unless your condition appears to require removal to a hospital.

Medical advice will be sought if you claim to need medication relating to a heart condition, diabetes, epilepsy or another potentially serious condition. It may also be sought if the member in charge of the station considers it necessary because you have such medication in your possession.

If you are removed to a hospital, the removal 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: 20 April 2020