Does a detainee have a right to view and read their custody record?

02 September 2020

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question: 

We have recently received a complaint regarding a detainee's legal rights. Please can you confirm whether a detainee has a right to view and read the custody record whilst they are detained in custody?

Answer:

The Police and Criminal Evidence 1984, and associated PACE Codes of Practice, appear to remain silent as to whether a detainee has the right to view or read their custody record during their period of detention.

In accordance with paragraph 2.4 of PACE Code of Practice C, during the period of detention, the detainee's solicitor and appropriate adult would be permitted to inspect the whole of the detainee's custody record as soon as practicable after their arrival at the station and at any other time on request, whilst the person is detained. Please note that this custody record would be minus the risk assessment – paragraph 3.8A of PACE Code C, and minus any health assessment/treatment – note 9E of PACE Code C.

Paragraph 2.4A of PACE Code of Practice C provides that when a detainee leaves police detention or is taken before a court, they, their legal representative or appropriate adult shall be given, on request, a copy of the custody record as soon as practicable. This entitlement lasts for 12 months after release.

If the detainee does not have legal representation or an appropriate adult, then our interpretation of the PACE Codes of Practice is that they would have to make a request for a copy of their custody record when they are no longer in police detention or are taken before a court.

To read more legislation about this, login to the legal database. 

Back to Legal Questions