Police Powers

Stop and Search

Powers of Arrest

Detention at the Police Station

HideShow resource information

Stop and Search

Authority under: Section 1 - 7 PACE

Where: Public place or private premises if they believe you do not live there

How: Must give names, station and reason for search

Osman V DPP 1999 QBD


  • Must have reasonable suspicion- Definition in Castorina, extended in O'Hara
  • Cannot be reasonable suspicion on personal factors alone
  • Can only remove outer coat, jacket and gloves in a public place
  • Written report must be done; is available to the suspect if wanted

Other Acts giving Stop and Search Powers:

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 - Sporting Events Act 1985 

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 -  S. 4 PACE: Road Checks

1 of 11

Evaluation of Stop and Search

  • Only 11% of those searched were arrested
  • Police may be overusing their powers
  • Data base is kept to check the searches
  • 1996 - leaflet with rights published 
  • Stop and search went down by 50%
  • Fewer stops and search could lead to more crime
2 of 11

Powers of Arrest

Section 24 PACE - updated by Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 

Arrest without a warrant:

  • Anyone guilty of an offence
  • Anyone suspected to be guilty of an offence
  • Anyone suspected to be guilty of a suspected offence
  • Anyone in the act of committing an offence
  • Anyone suspected in the act of committing an offence
  • Anyone about to commit an offence
  • Anyone suspected to be about to commit and offence
  • To allow a persons name / address to be ascertained 
  • To prevent injury, damage of property, causing obstructions on the highway
  • To protect a vulnerable person / child
  • To allow a prompt investigation of the offence or conduct of the person
  • To prevent disappearances 
  • Anyone on bail who has failed to turn up as required - S46A of PACE
3 of 11

Powers of Arrest

Arrest for breach of the peace:

  • Old common law - not statutory 
  • Where there has been or is likely to be a breach of the peace
  • Applies to both public and private premises 

McConnell V Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police 1990 CA

Bibby V Chief Constable of Essex 2000 CA - summarised the conditions for this power

Arrest with a warrant:

  • Police apply to Magistrates
  • Written supporting evidence is needed
  • Offence must be an imprisonable one
  • Warrant issued under Magistrates Court Act 1980
4 of 11

Manner of Arrest and Searching an Arrested Person

Manner of Arrest:

  • Must say they are being arrested and why - no set words needed
  • Set words usually said, but it is not essential 
  • Shown in Taylor V Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police 2004 CA
  • Reasonable force may be used to make an arrest


Searching an arrested person:

  • Can be searched for anything which may be evidence or used to escape
  • In public only the outer coat, jacket and gloves can be removed
  • Can check fingerprints prior to arrest against a data base - Conditions apply
  • Can test for drugs on arrest
5 of 11

Powers of Detention

Must be brought to the Station as soon as practicable

Suspect seen by Custody Officer who 'books' them in

Time Limits:

Start - Custody Officer decides if Detention is necessary

6 hours - First review by Custody Officer

15 hours - Second & subsequent reviews by Custody Officer (every 9 hours)

24 hours - Summary: charged or released. Indictable: permission to extended to 36 hours

36 hours - Apply to Magistrates to extend the time for detention

96 hours - Maximum time for detaining a person (except under Terrorism Act 2006) Suspect must be charged or released

6 of 11

Rights of a Detained Person

Have someone told about the Arrest:

  • S. 56 PACE - a friend, relative or someone interested in your welfare 
  • Must be informed of arrest and where you are
  • As soon as practicable but can be delayed for 36 hours for indictable offences
  • Only delayed if reasonable grounds to believe evidence will be destroyed etc
  • Code C allows the detainee a phone call to one person for a reasonable time
  • If under 17 - person responsible for them has to be informed 
7 of 11

Rights of a Detained Person

Right to a free legal advisor:

  • Can contact own or duty solicitor 
  • Suspect must sign a refusal for legal advice if unwanted
  • A delay in contacting solicitor can be for up to 36 hours for indictable offences if there are reasonable grounds to suspect interference

R V Sammuel 1988

  • CA stressed a delay is only justified on rare occasions
  • Conviction of robbery quashed 

R V Grant 2005 

  • CA held they would not tolerate illegal conduct by the police
  • Murder conviction quashed because of interference by the police 


8 of 11


- Police have the right to interview us

- All interviews are orally recorded

- Suspect has the right to have a legal advisor present unless occasion is rare

- If under 17 or mentally impaired an 'appropriate adult' can be present

Aspinall 1999 CA

- S. 76 PACE forbids treats of violence, torture and oppression during interviews

- Code C sets out appropriate conditions for interviewing

- Suspect can do a 'no comment' interview by can have an affect in court if they fail to answer any of the questions 


9 of 11

Searches at the Police Station

No automatic right to search a detainee

***** Searches:

  • 'Involves the removal of more than outer clothing'
  • Can only occur if they need to remove an article from the person
  • Must be done by a member of the same sex and in privacy 
  • Not all clothes removed at once

Intimate Searches:

  • 'A search that consists of the physical examination of a person's bodily orifices other than the mouth'
  • Authority is needed
  • Will happen if they believe the person has something which may cause physical harm to themselves or another or have drugs on them
  • Must be done by a suitably qualified person - e.g. a Nurse 
10 of 11

Fingerprints and Body Samples

Police may take fingerprints and non-intimate body samples without consent and can use reasonable force if needed. Eg. Hair, Saliva

Intimate samples:

  • Identified in CJAPOA 1994 - Eg. blood, urine, dental impressions
  • Must be taken by a registered medical practitioner - Nurse / Doctor
  • Consent is needed

Retention of Samples:

  • Until 2001 all samples were kept even if not charged
  • Challenged in ECHR held it was contrary to Article 8 of EU convention of HR
  • Now only kept for a 6 year period - must then be deleted
11 of 11


J Drabble


Excellent summary of relevant cases and explanation of legislation.

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all Criminal law resources »