On tonight's news there was considerable coverage of the potentially tragic case of Becky Watts, a young teenager who has been missing for over a week.

A spokesman for the Bristol police made the announcement that the man and woman who had been arrested two days ago on suspicion of her kidnap, had now been further arrested on suspicion of her murder. (So far no body has been discovered and one must assume that the reason the police have done this is to strengthen their case with the magistrates to allow them to hold the couple without charge beyond the normal time limit, for further questioning.)

From a language point of view I have concerns as to whether it is possible to further arrest a person. The ODO definition of arrest is seize someone by legal authority and take them into custody. Given that the couple concerned were already in custody I fail to see how they could have been further arrested.

What other term do contributors think might have been used instead?

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    I would favor re-arrest, preferably with hyphen (for what I trust are obvious reasons). – Brian Donovan Mar 3 '15 at 1:49
  • Perhaps "Their detention has been extended pending inquiries into their possible involvement in the murder of Becky Watts" would be more appropriate. I agree that 'rearrested' or 'further arrested' make no sense for the situation you present, when the suspects are already in custody and have not even been charged at this point. Rather than rearresting them, if the police require more time for investigation and/or drafting more serious charges than they are already considering, the correct procedure for them to follow requires them to apply to a magistrate for an extension of the holding time. – Erik Kowal Mar 3 '15 at 2:16
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    I hear this from time to time in the US. Once someone has been arrested on a lesser charge, if they are charged with something else, they are re-arrested if they were on bail, and "further arrested" if they were still in custody. "Charged" seems more natural, but I don't know the law. – anongoodnurse Mar 3 '15 at 4:38
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    Personally, I think Mari-Lou has put her finger on the nub of the problem, and that WS2 is wrong. Detention, as separate from arrest, exists in several places in UK law, such as under the Mental Health Act 1983 et al., for the purposes of a search under PACE 1984 (I think), in Northern Ireland under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007, and so on. I agree that the English language does not easily admit of the distinction, but we're talking law here, and the law (fairly) clearly does (NB: IANAL). – MadHatter Mar 3 '15 at 10:50
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    Please note that I'm not suggesting that any of these references is applicable to the case under discussion; I introduce them to show that detention and arrest are separate concepts in English and Welsh law, and failure to understand that may underlie the question as first posted, as I think Mari-Lou originally suggested. – MadHatter Mar 3 '15 at 11:25


CODE OF PRACTICE FOR THE STATUTORY POWER OF ARREST BY POLICE OFFICERS Further arrested is a legal term which means the extension of arrest time of a person already in police custody (first arrested) on the grounds of new evidence or new/ additional charge/charges. The above code uses the term further arrested several times.

2.6 Extending the power of arrest to all offences provides a constable with the ability to use that power to deal with any situation. However applying the necessity criteria requires the constable to examine and justify the reason or reasons why a person needs to be arrested or (as the case may be) further arrested, for an offence for the custody officer to decide whether to authorise their detention for that offence. See Note 2C

3.3 A person who is arrested, or further arrested, must be informed at the time if practicable, or if not, as soon as it becomes practicable thereafter, that they are under arrest and of the grounds and reasons for their arrest, see paragraphs 2.2 and Note 3.

I think the answer lies within the word "further":

  1. farther; 'rode across the valley and up the further slopes' — T. E. Lawrence.
  2. going or extending beyond : additional; 'further volumes' 'further education'

Thus further arrested implies additional arrest time, i.e. extending beyond the originally specified arrest period, usually 24 hours without charge, or extending beyond the initial charge.

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    +1 Very well spotted. I hadn't realised that the term was used in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Though it doesn't answer my question, it does explain why the spokesman of Avon & Somerset Police used it. The question now shifts to why the drafters of the PACE legislation couldn't think of a better expression than further arrested. I'm still hopeful that someone might come up with something better, so am reserving my award of correct answer for the moment. – WS2 Mar 3 '15 at 9:17
  • I have read the Merriam Webster entry on farther. (OED does not have any example of its use since 1669!). Its sometimes taking over the meanings of further which are associated with distance has been a nuance which has been there in all my lifetime - nothing new about that. But I am not clear as to how that helps us here. We are not discussing anything to do with physical distance. – WS2 Mar 3 '15 at 9:28
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    @WS2 - Look at OED Farther adverb 3. In addition, also, besides, moreover and compare with Further adverb 3. In addition, additionally; moreover. – Frank Mar 3 '15 at 11:33
  • @Frank First let me apologise. When I rather dismissed the OED here, I'm afraid I was just looking at the noun, not the adverb. It seems they are saying that farther has wider adverbial meanings than further. But since they give no examples more recent than 1791 it is a bit difficult to see what they are getting at. In my view further can be used to mean both also and besides. – WS2 Mar 3 '15 at 17:50
  • @WS2 No problem, it's unfortunate (but understandable) that the updates to existing definitions can often be few and far between, if at all. – Frank Mar 3 '15 at 17:58

"Further" is a generic modifier here.

Just as in:

I went to town to get some eggs and, further, some cheese

The "further" doesn't relate to any extra distance that I travelled: it just emphasises that the cheese was an add-on to my plan (or, at least, to my plan as originally described).


the man and woman who had been arrested two days ago on suspicion of her kidnap, had now been further arrested on suspicion of her murder

They were arrested on suspicion of kidnap and now, further, they've been arrested on suspicion of murder.

The appearance of "further arrested" in the relevant legal statute is assuredly an instance of this, rather than some defining, made-up-for-the-purpose idiom.

Consider also:

further to

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  • @Mari-LouA: Cool, another example – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 3 '15 at 11:35
  • @Mari-LouA The term detained is largely synonymous with arrested (except in unusual cases such as being sectioned under the Mental Health Act, or Stop and Search where there is a very brief period of detention - perhaps 15 minutes). But my objection to further arrested would apply equally to further detained. If one is already detained, one could not be further detained. The only proper way of expressing it, in my view, is that the couple in question in my OP, have now had suspicion of murder added to the existing causes for their arrest and detention. – WS2 Mar 3 '15 at 18:19
  • @Mari-LouA: Scotland Yard is the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service only, not all police services in the country. That document was effectively released by central government. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 3 '15 at 18:56
  • Yes, it was a quip. Did I seriously think WS2 should write a letter of complaint? – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '15 at 20:42

The phrase "further arrested" makes sense to me in connection with nouns like attention, as in

My attention, already piqued by the light shining from rooms on on the upper floor of the abandoned house, was further arrested by sounds of a scuffle from somewhere inside the mansion.

But in the context of a police action, arrest has a specific meaning that doesn't seem well-suited to combining the verb with further. Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary puts the relevant definition this way:

arrest vt (14c) ... 2 : SEIZE CAPTURE; specif to take or keep in custody by authority of law

And just as it doesn't make complete sense to talk about "seizing someone further" or "capturing someone further," or "taking or keeping someone further in custody"—as though custody were a labyrinth that one could go deeper and deeper into—it doesn't sound right (to me) to speak of "arresting someone further." Being under arrest is thus in one basic but crucial way like being pregnant: You either are or you aren't.

If the writer's goal is to indicate that additional charges being leveled against suspects who are already under arrest, a better way to put it might be to say that "further charges have been filed" against the suspects. If no formal charges have been filed in court, but the suspects remain under arrest while the authorities pursue additional suspicions, you might try this wording:

The suspects previously arrested on suspicion of kidnapping are now also being held on the further suspicion of murder.

If, on the other hand, the goal is to describe a situation where suspects have been arrested on one charge, then released, and then arrested again on another charge, a better way to describe the situation might be to say something like this:

The man and woman who were arrested two days ago on suspicion of kidnapping have now been detained on suspicion of murder.

There is no need for the word further in this last summary.

  • +1 for your review. But the question has moved on a little following the post from @sojourner, below. He has drawn attention to the fact that the term further arrested is used in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. But I agree with you that the Act might have been better worded to say something like an arrested person might be further detained. – WS2 Mar 3 '15 at 9:45
  • +1 for your suggestions on more graceful wording. "Further arrested" just sounds stupid. – Oldbag Mar 3 '15 at 10:55
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    @Oldbag: it's fit and proper that we deem and consider legal language often to sound stupid when it's unfamiliar. Contra your objection, to my BritE ear "further arrest" is a normal set phrase de lege lata. – Steve Jessop Mar 3 '15 at 19:35

I am persuaded by sojourner's answer that "further arrest" has a specific legal meaning under the British Police and Criminal Act (PACE) of 1984. I am unaware of any such meaning of "further arrest" under U.S. statutory law—certainly the term was not used in the context of criminal law in the courses on criminal procedure and evidence that I took in law school back in the late 1970s.

I am not, however, persuaded that "further arrested," under PACE, has the meaning that sojourner attributes to it:

further arrested is a legal term which means the extension of arrest time of a person already in police custody (first arrested) on the grounds of new evidence or new/ additional charge/charges.

My impression after looking at various instances of the phrase "further arrest" in PACE is that the term refers not to an extension of existing detention of a person already in custody but rather to a subsequent taking into custody of a person previously arrested and then released.

The two excerpts from PACE that sojourner's answer quotes (subsection 2.6 under "Elements of Arrest under section 24 PACE" and subsection 3.3 under "Information to be given on Arrest") appear to accommodate either interpretation of the phrase—as does the glancing mention in subsection 3.4:

3.4 A person who is is arrested, or further arrested, must be cautioned unless: [two specified exceptions omitted].

Also ambiguous are these subsections under section 10 ("Cautions") of Code C of PACE:

(a) When a caution must be given


10.3 A person who is arrested, or further arrested, must be informed at the time, if practicable, or if not, as soon as it becomes practicable thereafter, that they are under arrest and of the grounds and reasons for their arrest, see [cross-citation omitted].

10.4 As required by Code G, section 3, a person who is arrested, or further arrested, must be cautioned unless: (a) it is impracticable to do so by reason of their condition or behaviour at the time; (b) they have already been cautioned immediately prior to arrest as in paragraph 10.1.

(b) Terms of the cautions


10.9 When, despite being cautioned, a person fails to co-operate or to answer particular questions which may affect their immediate treatment, the person should be informed of any relevant consequences and that those consequences are not affected by the caution. Exampls are when a person's refusal to provide:

  • their names and addresses when charged may make them liable to detention;

  • particulars and information in accordance with a statutory requirement, e.g. under the Road Traffic Act 1988, may amount to an offence or make the person liable to a further arrest.

But two subsequent mentions of "further arrest" seem to me not to support the "already in police custody" interpretation. First, from section 42 ("Authorization of continued detention") of PACE:

(10) Where an officer has authorised the keeping of a person who has not been charged in detention under subsection (1) or (2) above, he [the arrested person] shall be released from detention, either on bail or without bail, not later than 36 hours after the relevant time, unless—(a) he has been charged with an offence; or (b) his continued detention is authorised or otherwise permitted in accordance with section 43 below.

(11) A person released under subsection (10) above shall not be re-arrested without a warrant for the offence for which he was previously arrested unless new evidence justifying a further arrest has comes to light since his release; but this subsection does not prevent an arrest under section 46A below.

Here, it can hardly be argued that the person "further arrested" after having been released under subsection 42(10) is "already in police custody"; it seems unmistakable that the "further arrest" refers to the person's being "re-arrested" on the basis of new evidence.

Second, and to very similar effect are provisions 45(18) and 45(19) under section 45 of PACE ("Warrants of further detention"):

(18) Where a warrant of further detention is issued, the person to whom it relates shall be released from police detention, either on bail or without bail, upon or before the expiry of the warrant unless he is charged.

(19) A person released under subsection (18) above shall not be re-arrested without a warrant for the offence for which he was previously arrested unless new evidence justifying a further arrest has comes to light since his release; but this subsection does not prevent an arrest under section 46A below.

It's unfortunate that PACE doesn't provide a specific definition of the term "further arrest," considering how often the words come up in the statute. But in view of the fact that sections 42(11) and 45(19) address specific situations where a person has been arrested and then released, it is impossible to interpret the words "further arrested" in those provisions as meaning "subjected to an extension of one's already existing detention." So either "further arrested" means something very similar to "re-arrested" throughout PACE or it has different meanings in different provisions of the statute—a most unfortunate attribute for a term with substantive legal meaning to have.

As I noted earlier, the term "further arrested" is not used in U.S. statutory law, as far as I know. Thanks to sojourner, we have ample evidence that it is used in UK law, though it appears not to be explicitly defined in PACE and consequently is subject to variable interpretation or misinterpretation by outsiders like sojourner and me.

Applying my interpretation of "further arrested" under PACE to the situation that WS2's question cites, I would say that "further arrested" would be appropriate language to use only if the man and woman "further arrested" on suspicion of murder had previously been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping but then released from custody prior to the "further arrest."

  • This is all interesting stuff. I would make a couple of points. First, I do not believe the couple in my OP were released before their further arrest. Nor do I think it practicable to 'release' someone, whom one intends immediately to re-arrest. What would 'release' mean in such a circumstance? Would they have any opportunity to remove themselves from the police station? Clearly the drafters of PACE have used this term extensively without, in my view, adequately defining it. Though it has thus acquired a legal meaning (whatever that is), in terms of the English language it is a nonsense. – WS2 Mar 3 '15 at 18:37
  • It has always been the case (long before PACE) that if the police needed to detain someone for questioning beyond the normal time limit (apparently now 36 hours) that there existed the possibility of their doing so on application to a magistrate. But I don't think that is what further arrest is referring to here. What seems to me to have happened here is that additional causes have been added to those for which the original arrest warrant was granted. – WS2 Mar 3 '15 at 19:05
  • @WS2: Right. In U.S. law this would be termed "filing additional charges," to supplement those given as the original justification for arresting the person now in custody. It would not be viewed as somehow replacing, supplementing, or extending the original arrest (or "taking into custody") itself. – Sven Yargs Mar 3 '15 at 19:38
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    Except that these are not 'charges'. So far no one has been 'charged'. All that the police have are 'suspicions', and the suspects remain arrested on that basis. So it is perhaps better to call them 'causes' rather than suspicions. But I am no lawyer and there may be a different way of describing what is happening. – WS2 Mar 3 '15 at 19:44
  • The legal procedures the British are using in this case do not exist in the law of the US because of US Constitutional provisions, prior case law, and, frankly, because the Colonists who rebelled against the Empire were repulsed by the abuse of this specific power--to detain without charge. But memories fade, and even the US is beginning to detain some people without charge, sometimes for years. See Guantanamo Bay and immigration procedures. Nevertheless, the US legal lexicon lacks a word to describe the legal actions of the British police. "Further arrested" seems to be the UK term of art. – hunterhogan Mar 3 '15 at 20:01

Legally, anybody can effect an arrest on another person under the right circumstances. Therefore in this context I dispute the definition extending to taking into custody. The Police & Criminal Evidence Act demands that persons be arrested a second time if further offences come to light, so what could be used to describe this instead of 'further arrested'? Also arrested maybe? How about additionally?

I Don't know, 'further arrested' always sounded right to me. I suppose if you wanted to be 100% accurate the only one to use would be 'unnecessarily'.

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