Police Powers

Stop and search, Powers of Arrest (1), Powers of arrest (2), Safeguards (1), SafeGuards (2).

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Stop & Search

  • The power of the police is to stop and search individuals is fundamental to their ability to do their job.
  • This use of power also necessitates intrusion into the rights of individuals to coduct their lives without interruption.
  • A balance must be struck between allowing the police to carry out their role effectively while simitaneously protecting the rights of individuals.
  • The main police power to stop and search is contained in the Police Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Others include: The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and the Terrorism Act 2000.
  • To supplement the statute, the home office have issued codes that detail the provisions in PACE. They are updated as police powers change.
  • They arn't part of the statute itself but breach of these codes may lead to any evidence that has been obtained being ruled inadmissible during a subsequent trial.
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Stop & Search

Power to stop and question

  • The police may question individual, but you can decline to answer unless arrested. This was confirmed in the case of Rice v Connolly (1966).
  • There is a thin line between lawfully refusing to answer questions and obstructing, the police, based on whether the refusla is accompanied by hostility or not.

The recording of stops

  • Following recommendation 61 of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report, under PACE Code A, when an officer requests that a person in a public place account for their presence, behaviour or possession of anything, a record must be made of this and a copy given to the person questioned.
  • This must include the date, time, place, reason why the person was questioned, the individuals defenition of their ethnicity and the outcome.


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Stop & Search


  • Search occurs when police stop individuals and search either them, their clothes or anything that they are carrying.
  • The power to search comes under s.1 of PACE and is supplemented by Cade A. Code A states that powers to stop and search must be used fairly, withe respect and without discrimination.
  • You can only be stopped and searched if the police have reasonable suspicion that the suspect has drugs, weapons or stolen property, or something used to commit a crime.
  • The suspicion should be based on facts, intelligence, infomration or behaviour. It cant be based on person factors, including age, race, religion, appearance, previous convictions or generalisations, stereotypes.
  • An individual must be informed that they are being stopped so that a search can be carried out.
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Stop & Search

  • If the officer isnt in uniform, they must provide identification (PACEs.2(3))
  • An individual may be stopped in a public place if the police believe that the person has committed a crime.
  • If the search is in a public place, the suspect can only be required to remove their jacket or coat and gloves. If they want the suspect to remove anything else, the suspect must be taken to a nearby place out of the public view. If they protest, reasonable force may be used (PACE s.117).
  • If the police recover any stolen or prohibited articles these can be siezed. (PACE s.1(6))
  • The police must provide a written record following the search, which must be done at the time, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
  • They must be informed of the officers name or number and their station, given an explanation of the grounds upon which the search is being carried out and informed of the subject of the search.
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Power of Arrest (1)

Police powers to arrest -

  • the power of arrest under PACE has recently been amended by the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 and a new code. Code G has been issued to give guidance on the excercise of the power of arrest.
  • Code G confirms that the right to liberty is a fundamental human right, and as the power of arrest interferes with that right, officers must be fully justified in using it.

These two tests must be met before an arrest can be said to be lawful:

  • The person must be involved or suspected of involvement in a crime.
  • There must be reasonable grounds for believing that their arrest is necessary.

Procedure - The person must be informed by the arresting officer of the facts of their arrest and the reasons.

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Power of Arrest (1)

Who can be arrested?

  • Anyone who is about to commit an offence or who is committing an offence.
  • Anyone the officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting they are about to commit an offence.
  • Anyone who is reasonably suspected of being guilty of an offence that the officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting has been committed.

The Necessity test

  • The powers of arrest are subject to the necessity test, the officer must believe that it is necessary to arrest.
  • Reasons why arrest is needed are set out in s.2 of Code G, Ascertain the name of the person involved or their adress, prevent the person causing injury to themselves or others, prevent the person causing damage to property.
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Power of Arrest (1)

Record of arrest

  • As soon as possible afterwards the arresting officer is required to record the nature of the offence leading to the arrest.
  • The information is then recorded in the custody record on arrival at the station.


  • Once arrested the suspect must be taken to the police staion as soon as possible. They will then be taken to a custody office who will assess the strength of the evidence against them. The custody officer wil ldecide whether thesuspect can be charged. If so they will be charged and released on bail.
  • If there isnt enough evidence they will be detained so that the police can gather evidence. They will then interview the suspect, they suspect has the right to contact someone to inform them of their situation, but this can be delayed if they need to protect evidence.
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Power of Arrest (1)

  • The police cant detain a suspects identity, and the custody office need to review the need of detention on a regular basis.
  • They will review if there is enough evidence after the first 6 hours, then further reviews every 9 hours. The police can detain a suspect for up to 36 hours, this can be extended for another 12 hours but it must be done by an officer of superintendedt rank.
  • A further extension of 96 hours is permitted, but this must be approved by the magistrate.
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Powers of Arrest (2)

Interview - they usually detain suspects so they can question the offence. The questions will usually be aimed to get the suspect to confess so they can bring their investigation to an end quickly. This may be used as a tool of oppression by the police which is why safeguards are put into place and the interview must be taped and a record made afterwards.The suspect also has the right to consult a legal advisor, but this can be delayed for up to 36 hours.

Search at the police station - At the police station the suspect is searched and the custody officer records any property. The police remove anything that they believe may cause the physical injury to themselves or others, property, interference with evidence, assist the suspect to escape or is evidence.

Non-intimate searches - These may then be taken. These are taken without consent and include finger-prints, oral swabs, saliva, photographs or footwear impressions.


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Power of Arrest (2)

***** Search - This may be carried out if necessary, to remove an article the suspect cant keep, this must be done by an officer of the same sex.

Intimate searches - s.55 of PACE is if a superintendent or officer believes that the suspect may be concealing something which could injure themselves such as drugs, they can then authorise a qualified doctor to carry out a search.

Intimate samples  - S.62 of PACE, intimate samples may require consent, these include boold, urine, *****, dental impressions, pubic hair and tissue.


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Leo Rowdan



Thank you very much for this. It'll be really useful.


Good, but can you post another resource that is straight to the point and less detailed so its easier to remember and revise from. Thanks Anyway for the effort

patrick flood

good  one 

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