The Public Defender of Rights

Problems and their solution

Police Cells

A person may be restricted in his/her freedom and placed in a police cell only for legal reasons. The person must be advised of his/her rights and obligations by the police officer who restricted him/her in his/her rights. The person must be subsequently advised of his/her rights and obligations at the time of placement in the cell. The advice includes a form to be signed by the person concerned.

For how long may I be restricted in my freedom by the police?

The maximum period is 72 hours from the restriction, after which you must be released or taken to a remand prison.  The beginning of the restriction of your freedom should be accurately recorded in a police protocol.

May I inform someone of my situation, and if so how?

Yes, ask the police to advise a person specified by you of your detention at the police station. The police cannot reject your request. If you are under 18, the police must also advise your legal representative.

May I contact a lawyer?

Whatever the legal reason for which you are restricted in your freedom, the police are obliged to cooperate in ensuring legal aid for you at your own expense.  If you do not know any legal representative, ask for a list of attorneys-at-law. You can talk with the legal representative at any time, without the presence of a third party.

I was examined by a police doctor before placement in the cell but I don’t trust him. Can I be examined again by my doctor?

Yes, the Police must advise the doctor determined by you of your request and allow him/her access to treat or examine you.

What if I fall ill or am injured in the police cell?

In that case, the police are obliged to provide first aid to you and call a doctor who must decide whether you will stay in the cell or be transported to a medical facility.

May the police officers tie me up even when I am in the cell?

Only if you have physically attacked a police officer or some other person, put your own life at risk, damage property or attempt to escape. This restraint must be ended as soon as it is obvious that the cause for applying it has ceased to exist. It may last for a maximum of two hours. A person should be tied to a suitable object.

My glasses were taken away from me; I can see contours only, lose my sense of direction in the cell and feel bad without the glasses. Was it necessary?

The law permits taking away things capable of putting life or health at risk. However, where a medical aid is concerned, the removal of which causes psychological or physical harm, the police officer must have a special reason for taking it away. Thus, taking away a medical aid should be an exception rather than a rule.

I regularly take medicines but don’t have them on me. What should I do?

You should report to the police officer before you are placed in the cell that you regularly take medication. The medicines should then be obtained for you.

I was restricted in my freedom at 4.00 P.M. I was placed in the cell at 8.30 P.M. It is 10.30 P.M. now and I feel hungry since I haven’t eaten anything since the morning. Do I have to wait until breakfast?

You are entitled to meals three times a day at reasonable intervals between 6.00 A.M. and 10.00 P.M.: the accurate times of serving meals shall be set by the police unit where you are placed. As a rule, meals are not served between 10.00 P.M. and 6.00 A.M. (the rest period). In your case, however, you have become entitled (having been restricted for more than 6 hours) to meal serving also between 10.00 P.M. and 6.00 A.M.: meals can be served to you in this period, but only at your request

It is already my second day in the cell, I do not have suitable clothes and feel the need to take a shower. Is it my right? 

If you do not have adequate or hygienically safe clothes, the police will lend you substitute clothing. You have the right to carry out basic hygiene under the law. It can be stated in general that you have the right to use the shower once every 24 hours, but you must request it from the police.

What are the things I can ask from the cell guard and what do I have a right to?

On request, the police must provide you with a toothbrush and toothpaste for carrying out dental hygiene, toilet paper, a plastic cup for water, a towel, paper handkerchiefs, a blanket and a sheet, slippers, or sanitary towels. In general, the police must advise you of these things (and other rights and obligations) before your placement in the cell and provide you with one copy of the advice.

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