Police Powers Revision Notes

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  • Created on: 21-04-13 17:00
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Police Powers
Stop and Search
Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the police have the power to stop
and search people and vehicles in a public place, such as the street or a car park. In
order to use this power the police must have reasonable suspicion that the person
or vehicle is concealing stolen goods or prohibited articles.
In order to safeguard the rights of the suspect, embarrassment must be kept to a
minimum. This means that in a public place the police can only ask for outer clothing
to be removed. A more thorough search must take place out of view. During the
search the officer must give their name and station, as well as the grounds and
reason for the search. A record of the search must then be made. Reasonable force
may be used.
Osman v DPP 1999: Osman resisted a search and was charged with assault. As
the officers hadn't given their names and station the QBD declared the search
unlawful and Osman not guilty.
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 allows the police to search a person if they believe
the person is in possession of a controlled drug.
Michaels v Highbury Corner Magistrates Court 2009: Michaels swallowed some
drugs during a search. His conviction was quashed as the officers did not give
their name and station.
The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 allows the police to stop and search
in anticipation of serious violence in any locality, a senior officer must grant
permission for a 24 hour period. Anyone on their way to a rave can be stopped and
redirected; road checks are authorised where a person has committed a serious
Under the Terrorism Act 2000 the police can ask a person they suspect of
involvement with terrorism to remove their headgear and shoes, however this act
has been suspended by the government.
The powers of arrest are contained within the Serious Organised Crime and Police
Act 2005. Code of Practice G states that there has to be reasonable grounds for

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AND the arrest is
necessary. It is necessary in order to:
Enable the name and address to be ascertained
Prevent harm or criminal activity
Protect children
To allow the prompt and efficient investigation of crime and ensure the person
doesn't disappear.
Bibby v Essex Police 2000: The conduct of the person must be unreasonable.
Taylor v Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police: The person needs to be told
they are under arrest in simple, non-technical wording that they can understand.…read more

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Fingerprints and non-intimate samples may be taken without consent and with
reasonable force.
Strip searches are only permitted when it is believed that the suspect is concealing
a prohibited article. No one unnecessary or of the opposite sex can be present and
the person cannot be made to remove all their clothing at the same time.
Intimate searches and samples can be authorised by a high ranking police officer if it
is believed that the person is concealing something that could harm themselves or
others.…read more


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