Communication & Contact

This section outlines the right a person in custody has to communicate and have contact with others, as well as details on how to contact the custody unit.

When a person has been detained, it is understandable that others may be eager to have any news on the investigation whether as friends, family, witnesses or the victim(s). However, the police are restricted in what information can be provided due to legal responsibilities e.g. the Data Protection Act 1998.

Additionally, during the early stages of an investigation it can be difficult to forecast when a particular stage of an enquiry will be completed and the outcome. The investigating officer(s) contact the relevant people entitled to know when they are in a position to give an update.

Right to contact others or make a telephone call (Click for more information)

A person in police custody has the right to have someone informed where they are. Additionally they are entitled to make one telephone call for a reasonable amount of time and the police can monitor the call. This entitlement can be denied by an inspector for a limited period as detailed under section 56 of the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Establishing if someone is in custody (Click for more information)

When a person is arrested they are entitled to have someone informed where they are but may choose not to. Because the person in police detention is equally entitled to privacy, this restricts the information available to persons making enquiries.

Unless the individual detained is a juvenile or vulnerable adult, the police will not discuss or reveal information about a person in custody without their permission. Sometimes people are reluctant to inform friends or family for many reasons, for example they prefer to explain matters themselves later after release.

I want to see someone in police custody (Click for more information)

A custody unit is normally an exceptionally busy environment. Priorities include progressing the investigation unhindered, prisoner welfare, working to tight timescales and risk management. Such demands on available staff mean that the scope for visits is very limited and only at the discretion of the custody officer. It’s highly likely that requests for visits may be refused.

The exception are juveniles under the age of 18 or vulnerable adults who require an ‘appropriate adult’ at the station.

Smoking & supplying cigarettes (Click for more information)

Detainees and visitors are not allowed to smoke in custody or on Police Premises under any circumstances, in accordance with the Health Act 2006 and the Smoke-free Premises (Wales) Regulations 2007.

People in custody may be provided with nicotine replacement therapy to alleviate the effects of acute nicotine withdrawal if necessary, subject to their anticipated duration in custody and approval by a medical health professional.

Finding out when someone is released (Click for more information)

A person released from custody will be permitted to use the phone to contact family or friends. They may also choose to leave and make their own arrangements such as getting the bus or a taxi without letting anyone know.

If there are any concerns regarding the release of a person, for example concerning victims or witnesses, where appropriate the police officers involved in the investigation would update people combined with any necessary risk management strategy. Therefore any risk or concerns need to be made to the investigating officer dealing or their supervisors through the police control room on 101 or 0300 330 0101.

Contacting an Embassy or foreign Consulate (Click for more information)

People from other countries whether an independent Commonwealth country or a national of a foreign country also have the right to have their High Commission, Embassy or Consulate informed of where they are and why they are in police detention.

Contacting the Police Custody Unit (Click for more information)

There are three main custody units in North Wales, located at Wrexham, St Asaph and Caernarfon. If you have any questions regarding custody procedures or in connection with any ongoing investigation please look at other sections under Custody Procedures or contact the relevant officer dealing with your matter.

The custody units can be very busy, therefore contact may involve having to leave a message on our answering service and a member of staff will return your call if it’s a matter they are in a position to assist with. Staff will not reveal any information if it’s likely to breach policy, privacy or legislation, therefore please be specific in your enquiry when you leave a message - otherwise we may not be able to reply.

If you wish to report an incident (non-emergency) or wish to locate an officer and send a message, please contact our control room on 101 or 0300 330 0101. The custody unit will not be in a position to take details of any incident or update you on the progress of any investigation.

  • Wrexham Custody Unit: 01978 348348 or 01978 348349
  • St Asaph Custody Unit: 01745 588888 or 01745 588881
  • Caernarfon Custody Unit: 01286 670677 or 01286 670085