police in the uk

Page last updated:
08 Sep 2021

It is important to know about the police in the UK; both what their responsibilities are and what rights and responsibilities you have when interacting with a police officer. Depending which country you’re from, you may have to register with the police upon your arrival in the UK.

On this page you will find information about who needs to register with the police, how to do it and what to do if you are arrested for any reason.

How can I identify a Police Officer?

Most police officers wear a uniform; the uniforms may sometimes seem slightly different to each other, some with bright yellow reflective jackets, some without.

All police officers must carry a warrant card. This card shows their identification and tells you that they are a police officer. Officers must show this card if they are asked to. Police in Leeds do not normally carry guns.

If you are arrested, then you will be taken to a police station. You have the right to inform someone that you have been arrested. You should contact the university immediately if you are detained by the police. Telephone 0113 812 8811, Monday- Friday 09:00 -17:00.

Registering with the police

Do I need to register with the police?

Students who hold passports from Commonwealth or EC countries do not usually have to register with the police but you should check for specific instructions stamped in your passport on arrival. Other students, who are 16+, holding travel documents / identity cards are usually required to register with the police.

if you are from one of the following countries you will need to register with the police:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Belarus
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Columbia
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • Georgia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Peru
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen

Even if you are not from a country on the list, you may still have to register. Please check the vignette in your passport for confirmation. 

You must register as soon as possible after your arrival in the UK. You can add the details of your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) once you have collected it. 

How do I register with the police?

1. Create an account online on the West Yorkshire Police website. You will require the following to hand: 

  • Personal details
  • Contact details
  • Family member details
  • Passport details
  • Visa and travel details
  • Study and employment details
  • A passport-style photograph

2. Once you've created an account and given your details, you'll be asked to make an appointment at the designated Police Station (once social distancing measures have been lifted)

3. Attend the appointment. You'll need to bring: 

  • A credit / debit card
  • A passport or travel document
  • Your biometric residence permit (BRP) (if applicable)
  • Proof of address (a tenancy agreement or letter from our university which contains the room number)
  • Confirmation of study letter, work permit or employment letter

4. Registration costs £34 per person and is payable by card at the appointment. Your documents will be photocopied and returned to you, alongside your Police Registration Certificate (PRC)

If you fail to register with the police, you can be liable to a fine of up to £5,000, six months' imprisonment, or both. Your stay in the UK may be affected. 


Do I have to update the police of anything else in the future?

Once registration is completed, you must inform the police of any of the following changes within seven days:

  • Change of residential address
  • Change of college, university, occupation or course
  • Change of name, nationality or marital status
  • New entry visa granting an extension of stay
  • New Home Office extension to your visa
  • New passport or travel document issued
  • Your PRC has been lost, stolen or damaged

Updating these details is free of charge (unless your PRC is lost, stolen or damaged, in which case you will be charged £34). These changes can be made using the online system on the West Yorkshire Police website. 

Similarly, failure to report any of the above changes will render the offender liable to a fine of up to £5,000, six months' imprisonment, or both.


Is there anything else I need to know?

Whilst your PRC may be accepted as proof of identity in the UK, we don't recommend you carry it with you. Please keep it in a safe place similarly to your passport and travel documents. If a police officer asks you to produce your PRC, you then have 48 hours to show your PRC at any police station. 

If you intend to leave the UK permanently, you must report this change by contacting the West Yorkshire Police. Please make sure you include your departure date, airport and country you intend to travel to when filling in the form. 

If you are arrested for any reason

When a police officer makes an arrest, he or she is taking you under the care and control of the law. This means that for the time being you lose certain freedoms, such as to go and do as you please, but in return you are given certain rights which protect you against unreasonable treatment.

If you are arrested, you have the right to know why you have been arrested. At the police station you will be entitled to:

  • See a solicitor - Whether you are arrested or go to a police station voluntarily, you are entitled to free legal advice from a solicitor who will advise you while you are being questioned
  • Read a copy of the Codes of Practice, which explains the procedures the police should follow in such circumstances

You can be detained by the police only if they do not have enough evidence to charge you and they have good reason to believe that they can obtain further evidence. You cannot normally be held for more than 24 hours without being charged or released.

Laws on drinking and drugs

Most of the laws about alcohol are contained in the Licensing Act 2003.

Social customs and laws on drinking in public vary significantly around the world. Currently it isn’t illegal to drink in public. However, many areas have alcohol-free zones that target town centres and / or residential areas where there is a particular issue with drinking in public.

Being drunk and disorderly in a public place is illegal; although providing you don’t do any damage or give the police verbal abuse, the most they’ll usually do is take you back to the police station and put you in a cell so you can sleep it off.

The law on drugs is complex; but if you're caught with an illegal substance, ignorance is not a defence.

Maximum penalties if you are caught:

  • Class A: Seven years in prison and / or a fine for possession, life imprisonment and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply
  • Class B: Five years in prison and / or a fine for possession, 14 years in prison and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply
  • Class C: Two years in prison and / or a fine for possession, five years prison and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply

Talk to FRANK” is the national drugs helpline offering free, confidential information and advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also have a useful website at www.talktofrank.com/. You can call FRANK on 0800 77 66 00 or text a question on 82111. The cost of sending a text to FRANK is the same as a standard text message, which will depend on your network tariff. Information and advice is also available via the website.

Most of the laws about alcohol are contained in the Licensing Act 2003.

Social customs and laws on drinking in public vary significantly around the world. Currently it isn’t illegal to drink in public. However, many areas have alcohol-free zones that target town centres and / or residential areas where there is a particular issue with drinking in public.

Being drunk and disorderly in a public place is illegal; although providing you don’t do any damage or give the police verbal abuse, the most they’ll usually do is take you back to the police station and put you in a cell so you can sleep it off.

The law on drugs is complex; but if you're caught with an illegal substance, ignorance is not a defence.

Maximum penalties if you are caught:

  • Class A: Seven years in prison and / or a fine for possession, life imprisonment and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply
  • Class B: Five years in prison and / or a fine for possession, 14 years in prison and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply
  • Class C: Two years in prison and / or a fine for possession, five years prison and/or a fine for possession with intent to supply

Talk to FRANK” is the national drugs helpline offering free, confidential information and advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They also have a useful website at www.talktofrank.com/. You can call FRANK on 0800 77 66 00 or text a question on 82111. The cost of sending a text to FRANK is the same as a standard text message, which will depend on your network tariff. Information and advice is also available via the website.

Contact student immigration advice and compliance

west yorkshire police

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