Police custody: risks and safeguards

Detention by the police is the moment when detainees are most at risk of ill-treatment or of suffering other types of abuse.

To prevent and combat crime and to maintain public order law enforcement officers are provided with a series of powers.

The police have the power to control identities, to arrest, to conduct searches, to monitor demonstrations, to detain, to interrogate, to investigate, and to use force under certain conditions. Although most police officers will always act within the strict framework of their mandate, there exist in all these steps serious risks of abuse. There is therefore a need for a proper and impartial monitoring of police conduct.


This illustration highlights the main steps in police detention, pointing to the main risks areas and the existing safeguards. However, this scheme does not intend to be comprehensive or encompassing the entire and subtle reality of police custody.>