Depriving a person of his liberty against his will following arrest. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 closely regulates police powers of detention and detained persons' rights. In general, detention of adults without charge is allowed only when it is necessary to secure or preserve evidence or to obtain it by questioning; it should only continue beyond 24 hours (to 36 hours) in respect of serious indictable offences (e.g. rape, kidnapping, causing death by dangerous driving) when a superintendent or more senior officer reasonably believes it to be necessary. Magistrates' courts may then authorize a further extension without charge for up to 36 hours, which can be extended for another 36 hours, but the overall detention period cannot exceed 96 hours.
If the ground for detention ceases, or if further detention is not authorized, the detainee must either be released or be charged and either released on bail to appear before a court or taken before the next available court. An arrested person held in custody may have one person told of this as soon as practicable, though if a serious arrestable offence is involved and a senior police officer reasonably believes that this would interfere with the investigation, this can be delayed for up to 36 hours. The detainee has a broadly similar right of access to a solicitor. Under the Terrorism Act 2006 the period for which terrorist suspects may be detained without charge was extended from 14 days to 28 days. See feature The Terrorism Acts.
From: detention in A Dictionary of Law »