I think I am wanted by the Police. What should I do?
Contact us and we will make enquiries on your behalf. We will try to arrange for you to surrender voluntarily rather than be arrested for any interview.
When can I get my property back?
Police may search for, and seize property when they arrest you. This can include your mobile phone/clothing/trainers. You generally will not be able to get it back until the case is finished. That means either a decision has been made that you will not be prosecuted or you have been to Court and sentenced (if appropriate).
Can we make enquiries about your property?
We have no special way to contact the police but dial 101 and ask to speak to the property office or officer in charge of your case. Because our solicitors are usually at Court you are likely to find it quicker to ring or go into the police station yourself. But property is not generally released until the case is finished
It wasn’t my stuff that was taken?
If the item seized is thought to contain evidence which will help the police work out what happened, it will still be examined. But once they have looked at it, if it doesn’t help them they will return it to the owner if they can prove it belongs to them, otherwise it will go back to the person it was taken from
My phone/laptop has important information that I need – can I get this?
The law provides that you are entitled to data such as phone numbers, copy documents from your device. However, the law does not say that you can get this data yourself and the police often insist that an expert extract the information. This is expensive. And slow. Sometimes you can persuade a police officer to give you an important phone number when the phone is seized but you cannot insist on this.
I had my phone on a contract- do I still have to pay it?
Yes, the phone contract is between you and the phone company and you must continue to pay until the contract comes to an end, but you can ask the phone company for a new sim to put into a different phone.
How will I know when I can get my stuff back?
The officer in charge of the case will send a letter to the last known address stating that the property is available for collection. That letter has the reference number for the property and details of how it can be collected.
My property has been returned, damaged
The police have a duty of care to look after your stuff. If you can show the property was damaged in their care you should be able to claim compensation from the Force Solicitor
My property has been lost
The police must write down the items they take from you. You can ask for this list. If they have lost your stuff you should be able to claim compensation from the Force Solicitor.
My property has been destroyed
The police send out a letter informing you that your property has been released and is available for collection. You normally have 28 days to pick it up. If you are in prison you can give someone authority to collect it on your behalf. They need a letter of authority from you. We do not collect property even if you are in prison because we are not insured to do so. If you leave it longer than 28 days your property may be destroyed although it is worth checking.
The Court will instruct bailiffs to collect money that you owe such as fines/cost/victim surcharge. The Legal aid agency instruct them to collect contributions for legal aid. Bailiffs collecting these debts have a power of entry into your home, so if you do not answer the door they can use reasonable force to enter – ie break the door, but they rarely do so.
Once a debt has been passed to the bailiff, they add their costs and fees. The whole sum is considered due but they may accept payment by instalments. They can seize goods if you do not have the money to pay. There are some items they are not allowed to take.
Bailiffs can only demand payment from the person who owes the money. They can only take the property of the person who owes the money, not other people who they live with. This is important in a shared house or where adult children lives with their parents. Despite what the bailiffs say they have no power to take the parents TV/xbox/car etc
The citizens advice bureau website has useful advice on this: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/action-your-creditor-can-take/bailiffs/
Going to prison
What can I expect when I go to prison?
A google search will pull up blogs and advice but the rules and conditions in prison changes frequently and these may not be up to date.
What should I take to prison with me?
You can only take into prison what you take with you in the dock when you are sentenced. If you want to take a bag you must bring it into Court with you. Property cannot be accepted by the Court cells after you have been sent into custody, although property can be sent into the prison. We are told that a list of phone numbers, and money are the most useful items but if you are in for longer, clothing/trainers may be desired.
Visiting a prisoner
If a prisoner is on remand you do not need a Visiting Order “VO” but you must still book the visit with the prison. You will need photo ID to visit a prisoner. Once a prisoner is convicted you must have a VO from the prisoner. The most up to date information will be on the prison website.
Phone calls from prison
Prisoners can make phone calls once a number is approved by the prison (by being put on their “PIN”) and if they have credit. Phone calls are recorded by the prison.
You can email a prisoner using the service, “emailaprisoner.com” this is not free nor confidential.
I have not heard from my son- is he alright?
Prisoners cannot always telephone even when they say they will. All sorts of problems happen, such as security issues, losing pin card, having no credit, too long a queue at the phone. We cannot find out if your son is alright. If you are concerned you will need to call the prison
Can we pass a message to a prisoner?
We have no way of calling a prisoner even in an emergency. We can write to them and we can visit them, or speak to the over secure video conferencing- (called video link) but these take a few days or a week to arrange.
Complaints about treatment in prison?
We are only permitted by the Legal Aid Agency to help you with criminal investigations and Court proceedings. If you have concerns about your categorisation, parole date etc you will need to go to a firm which specialises in Prison Law. Not many firms do, but they advertise within the prison and in the prisoners newspaper “Inside Times”.
I have been found with a mobile phone in prison?
If you commit a further offence whilst in prison such as assaulting a prison officer or possessing a mobile phone in prison these can be dealt with in one of two ways; either
- Under the prison rules
- By the police
We can help you if the offence is investigated by the police but if you are dealt with under prison rules you must go to a “prison law” solicitor- see above.