Police Powers

Brief revision notes on police powers

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Stop and search
Section 1 of PACE gives the police the right to stop and search people and vehicles in a public place. There must be
reasonable grounds for suspecting that person is in possession of (or the vehicle contains) stolen goods or prohibited
articles such as offensive weapons. As the power is very wide there are safeguards in that the police officer must
give his name, station and the reason for the search. If the search is in public, only outer clothing of coat, jacket and
gloves can be removed. A written report has to be made of the search.
Searching premises
The police can enter premises without the occupier's permission to make a search if:
A warrant has been issued by a magistrate (section 16); the warrant need not be shown on entry, only before
the search starts, (R v Longman 1988)
It is necessary in order to arrest a person named in an arrest warrant or to arrest someone for an arrest-able
offence or to recapture an escaped prisoner (section 17)
It is believed that there is evidence relating to an arrest (section 18)
Powers of arrest
The police may make an arrest when authorized to do so by a warrant naming the person to be arrested and there is
a right of arrest for breach of the peace. Also PACE gives the police general rights of arrest in certain circumstances
involving arrest-able offences.
Section 24 of PACE allows an arrest without a warrant in the following circumstances:
Where the suspect has committed / or is in the act of committing an arrest-able offence
Where an arrest-able offence has been or is being committed and there are reasonable grounds for
suspecting the person arrested (even if it turns out later he did not commit that offence)
Where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an arrest-able offence has been committed ( even if
it turns out that no offence was committed) and there are reasonable grounds for suspecting the person
arrested
Where the suspect is about to commit an arrest-able offence
Where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the person arrested was about to commit an
arrest-able offence
Section 25 of PACE allows the police to arrest for any offence where:
The suspects name and address cannot be discovered
There are reasonable grounds for believing that the name and address given by the suspect are false
There are reasonable grounds for believing that the suspect will cause injury to himself or others or will cause
damage to property
The arrest is reasonably believed to be necessary to protect a child or other vulnerable person
Detention at the police station
The detainee must be told his rights by the custody officer. These are:
Having someone informed of his arrest

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Being told that independent legal advice is available free, and being allowed to consult privately with a solicitor
Being allowed to consult the Code of Practice
For most offences the police may only detain a person for a maximum of 24 hours (the Criminal Justice Bill going
through parliament in 2003 has provision for this to be changed to 36 hours in all cases). If the person is not charged
with an offence, the police must release them.…read more

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