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Truth about 'one phone call' prison policy often seen in movies

Truth about 'one phone call' prison policy often seen in movies

Remember that scene in the movies where someone gets arrested and asks for their 'one phone call? It doesn't quite work like that.

You've probably seen the scene a hundred times across films and crime dramas - someone gets arrested and carted off to jail but when they get slung in a cell they demand to have their one phone call.

Sometimes this is used to beg for help in getting out of custody, while in other cases it's all part of the villain's evil plan and they're going to use the phone for some nefarious purpose.

One of the most famous examples of this is The Dark Knight, where chaotic clown The Joker (Heath Ledger) uses his call to detonate a bomb as part of his plans.

If you go to jail in the UK you do not pass go, collect £200 or have a guarantee of a free phone call.
Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy Stock Photo

Sadly for anyone planning on getting arrested in the near future, the idea that you're guaranteed your 'one phone call' to someone who can help you out just isn't the truth.

It's one of those myths pushed by movies and TV shows which has managed to become fake public knowledge and resulted in everyone believing they get a free phone call if ever arrested.

That's not to say that police can just lock you up and throw away the key, you do have rights and if you ask nicely there are some things they can give you.

Derek Trask / Alamy Stock Photo

While you're not entitled to make your 'one phone call' like they always do in the movies, what you are allowed to do is inform someone you've been arrested.

This is technically your phone call, but in truth it's more like you telling the police the details of someone you know who you think needs to know the police have arrested you.

In most cases it won't be you placing the call, a police officer will get in touch with someone to tell them you've been nicked on your behalf.

One of the classic tropes which does turn out to be founded in the truth is not having to say anything until you get your lawyer, or solicitor since we're talking about the UK.

The idea that you're guaranteed to get your one phone call in prison is about as outdated as this old police phone box.
Mark Sunderland Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

The police have to ask you if you want legal advice and must provide you with a solicitor you can talk to at any time of the day.

There are solicitors on call who must be able to make it to a police station within 45 minutes and it won't cost you a single thing.

If you ask for some legal help then officers are not really allowed to ask you questions until someone shows up to aid you.

Even if you decide you don't want any legal aid in the first place you can always change your mind about it at any time.

To sum it all up, no you don't get your 'one phone call' but you do get your lawyer.

This isn't the movies, this is real life and it doesn't really stack up to the glitz and glamour of the silver screen.

Featured Image Credit: Derek Trask/True Images/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: UK News, Crime, News, TV and Film