Police Powers

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Codes of Practice-Police and Criminal Evidence Act

Code A- on stop and search powers

Code B-on powers to search premises and seize property

Code C-dealing with the detention and questioning of suspects

Code D- on the rules for identification procedures

Code E- on the tape-recording of interviews with suspects

Code F-on visual recording with sound of interviews(i.e. videoing interviews)

Code G-on powers of arrest

Code H-on detention, treatment and question of those arrested under s41 of the Terrorism  Act 2000

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Purpose is to enable police officers to check out their suspicions without arresting

Section 1 of Pace

  • Gives the police the right to stop and search in public places
    • includes streets, car parks and gardens if the police have the suspicion an individual does not live at that address
  • Police Officer must have reasonable grounds that individual is in possesion of
    • of a vehicle or vehicle containing stolen goods or prohibited articles
      • offensive weapons(knives and other sharp items)
      • articles for use in connection with burglary/theft/criminal damage
  • If searched in public individual can only be asked to revmove outer coats, jackets and gloves. Anything other than that must be done out of public view

Police officer must give their names or station otherwise search is unlawful

Osman v DPP(1999)- officers did not give their names or station

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Code A

Code of Practice A contains guidance for when stop and search should be used.

Stresses that stop and search must be used fairly and responsibly

Reasonable suspicion must not be supported by personal factors alone or used in combination with each other:

  • race
  • age
  • appearance(only allowed when gangs known to carry knives/wear specific clothing or carry drugs)
  • person is know to have previous convictions

Reasonable suspicion must come from information(carrying a knife or stolen goods) or someone's behaviour(trying to hide something)

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Other powers to stop and search


  • Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 - gives police power to stop and search for controlled  drugs
  • Terrorism Act 200 - gives police powers to stop and search where the suspicion that a person is involved in terrorism

Under terrorism act police can ask suspect to remove their headgear/shoes

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 s60- gives police right to stop and search in anticipation of violence( can only take place if authorised by senior police officer)- Limited duration - only authorised for 24 hours

Criminal Justice and Public Order 1994 s60AA- allows officers to ask for the removal of  any item believed to be concealing a person's identity(removal of a scarf/item covering face)

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Voluntary Searches



Person is prepared to be searched voluntarily

Since 2004 Code of Practice A-voluntary searches can only be made if a power of search already exists

All voluntray searches must be made in accordance with the law and provisions of Code A

  • Must be recorded in writing
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Problems of stop and search

MacPherson Report-Stephern Lawrence- Black youth stabbed to death in South London case was handled badly with report finding institutionilised racism in Metropolitan Police

Balance of interests

  • achieving balance between crime prevention and interferring with human rights( sensitive area of removing items related to religious reasons)
    • importance demonstrated with the London Bombing(July)-bomber left the city dressed in a Burka covering him completely

Does stop and search lead to arrest?

  • 1999- 10% led to arrest
  • 2000- 13% led to arrest


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Powers of arrest under PACE


s24 of PACE set out powers till changed to Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005(SOCPA) Section 110 of SOCPA substituted s24 PACE

A constable may arrest without a warrant-

  • anyone who is about commit an offence
  • anyone who is in the act of committing an offence
  • anyone whom he has reasonable grtounds for suspecting to be about to commit an offence
  • anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an offence

If a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed, he may arrest anyone without a warrant whom he has reasonable grounds to suspect of being guilty

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Continuation of arrest under PACE


If an offence has been committed, a constable may arrest without a warrant

  • anyone who is guilty of the offence
  • anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty


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Necessity test

Arresting officer can only arrest if he has reasonable grounds that arrest is necessary

  • to enable the person's name/address to ascertained
  • to prevent person:
    • causing physical injury to himself or any other person
    • suffering physical injury
    • causing loss of or damage to property
    • committing an offence against public decency
    • causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway
  • to protect a child or other vulnerable person
  • to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person
  • to prevent any prosection for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question

The last two grounds are open to dispute as they can be claimed in all cases

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PACE code of practice G

Streses that a lawful arrest requires two elements

  • a person's involvement or suspected involvement or attempted involvement
  • reasonable grounds for believing that the person's arrest is necessary

Arresting officers are required to inform the person arrested they have been arrested

Powr to arrest is only exercisable if it is necessary to arrest. Remain an operational decision at the discretion of the arresting officer as to

  • what action he may take at the point of contact with the individual
  • the necessity criteria, if any, which apply
  • whether to arrest, report for summons, grant street bail, issue a fixed penalty notice or take any other action open to the officer
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Other powers of arrest

Arrest for breaching police bail

  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 added an extra power of PACE
  • s46A of PACE and gives the police the right to arrest withou a warrant anyone who
    • been released on police bail
    • fails to attend the police station at a set time

Arrest with a warrant

  • Police may make an application to a magistrate for a warrant to arrest a named person
    • issues under s1 Magistrates' Court Act 1980
      • requires written information supported by evidence on oath showing that a person has committed or is suspected of committing an offence

Allows the police to enter/search suspect's home for purpose of making an arrest

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Other powers of arrest continued

Arrest for breach of the peace

Common law right to arrest where there has been or is likely to be a breach of the peace

McConnell v Cheif Constable of the Greater Manchester Police-1990- carpet store, asked to leave but refused-sued the court that breach of peace can not occur on private premises which it can

Bibby v Chief Constable of Essex Police-2000-summarised conditions that must apply for common law power of arrest

  • must be sufficiently real and prsent threat to peace
  • threat must come from the person to be arrested
  • the conduct of that personmust clearly interfere with the rights ofotheres and its natural consequence must be 'not wholly unreasonable' violence from a third part
  • conduct of the person to be arrested must be unreasonable

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Arrest by Private Citizens


Serious Organised Crime & Police Act- s24A PACE rights of private citizen to arrest.

Private citizens can only arrest in respect of indictable offences(committing or suspecting offence) or an indictable offence has been committed and suspect person is guitly.

It must be impracticable for a constable to arrest if the citizen has reasonable grounds to believe arrest is necessary

  • causing physical injury to himself or any other person
  • suffering physical injury
  • causing loss of or damage to property
  • making off before a constable can assume responsibility for him
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Comments on power of arrest

Manner of arrest

  • Police must tell the person they are under arrest even if it is obvious
  • Police and citizens making an arrest may use reasonable force

Lawful arrest

  • Taylor v Chief Constable fo Thames Valley Police (2004)
  • Taylor a 10 year old had been throwing stones at a protest and was later arrested at another protest. The language was non technical and understandable and contained essential legal facts making the arrest lawful

The right to searh an arrested person

  • Arrested person is allowed to be search for evidence/anything which could help them escape
  • If search takes place in public place gloves/coats/jackets can only be removed 
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Powers of Detention


Code of Practice C-contains rules of treatment of people in detention

  • Anyone brought to a police station must be brought before a custody officer as soon as practicable
  • Custody officer must start a custory record in relation to events involving suspect(must be written down)
    • must include
      • time of arrival
      • reason why arrested
      • review of detention

Must also record any visits to the detainee in cell when detained or any other event which may occur

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Time limits under PACE

At start of detention person arrives at police station and custody offficer decides reason to detain

6 Hours- First review by custody officer

15 Hours/ every 9 Hours after- Second and subsequent reviews by custody officer

24 hours - Permission of a superintendent is needed to extend period of detention

36 Hours  

  • Summary/triable either way offences police may not detain beyond             
  •  indictable offences police may apply to magistrates to extend period of detention

96 Hours

  •  Maximum time for detaining(except under Terrorism Act 2000) 
  • Police must charge/release suspect
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Rights of a detained person

Detainees must be told their rights by custody officer

  • someone informed of there arrest
  • being told independent legal advice is avaible free of charge
    • also allowed to consult privately with a solicitor
  • allowed to consult the Code of Practice code C

Detainee must be given written notice setting out rights

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The right to have someone informed of the arrest

s56 Pace

  • Arrested person nominates any friend/relative or any other person who is interested in welfare
    • must be told why person being detained
    • where there being detained

Must be done as soon as practicable

  • senior police officer may authorise a delay of up to 36 hours in cases of indictable offences
    • reasonable grounds
      • telling named person will intefere or harm/evidence

Should be allowed to speak on a reasonable length time

If suspect under age of 17 must contact person responsible for welfare

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The Right to legal advice

Detained person may contact their own solicitor or use system of duty solicitors free of charge

  • Custody officer must ask suspect to sign custody record on their wishes of having legal advice
  • Police stations must have posters prominently displayed advertising the right to free legal advice
    • suspect must be orally/given written notice 
  • Senior police officer may authorise a delay of suspects rights for 36 hours in indictable offences
    • Only if giving access to a case will lead to
      • interference/harm to evidence
      • alerting others involved in the offence
      • hinder the recovery obtained through the offence

R v Samuel 1988 - 24 year old man whose mother had been alerted of arrest before denied the right to a solicitor. Court of Appeal felt if anyone was to be alerted they would of by now and any information from interviews was inadmissible in court.

R v Grant 2005 - Court of Appeal held that court would not tolerate illegal conduct by police. Deliberate interference by police with detained suspects right to a solicitor. 

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Other Rights

Cells must be adequately

  • heated
  • lit
  • cleaned
  • ventilated

Suspect should be offered at 

  • two light meals/one main meal
  • drinks should be provided at mealtimes

In any period of 24 hours detainee must be allowed a continuous period of at least 8 hours of rest

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Terrorism cases

Longer periods of detention are allowed when suspects suspected of terrorism

Sections 23-25 of the Terrorism Act 2006

  • enables prosecutors to apply for an extension of detention warrant
    • 14 days-approval by magistrate
    • over 14 days-approval by a senior judge
  • extend maximum period of detention to 28 days
  • amend grounds of detention to include
    • detention which is necessary pending the results of 
      • examination/analysis of relevant evidence
      • being examined/analysed with a view to obtaining relevant evidence
  • Allowed to consult relevant practice code(H)

Have same rights as other detainees

Where suspect held for more than 96 hours must be visited by a healthcare professional at least once every 24 hours

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Police interviews of suspects

  • Detained person can be questioned by the police
  • All interviews that take place at police station must be tape-recorded or tape/video recorded
  • Suspects have the right to a solicitor at interview
    • police may conduct interview without solicitor being present
    • if urgent police have the right to start questioning before solicitor arrives
  • Take place in interview rooms
    • heated, lit and ventilated
  • Person being interviewed must be offered a seat
    • PACE Code C- should not be required to stand
  • Must be breaks from interview at mealtimes and short refreshment breaks about every 2 hours


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Police interviews

Tape recording

  • 2 copies made
    • master copy which is sealed
    • working copy-can be checked by suspect or their lawyers
  • Start of each interview police must start recording with
    • time
    • who is present at interview
  • At end police must state the time it finishes

Appropriate adult

  • under age of 17/mentally handicapped appropriate adult must be present during all interviews
  • Right is in addition to the right to legal advice
  • R v Aspinall 1999
    • Court of Appeal ruled defendant was suffering from schizophrenia should of had an appropriate adult present when interviewed. Even thought the defendant appeared to understand the police questions
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Police interviews

Right to silence

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994-defendants can refuse to answer any questions without any adverse conclusion being drawn on their silence

  • Government decided rule was allowing guilty people to go free and the right had to be restricted
  • Change in law does not man that defendant can be forced to speak
    • any trial which follows judge may comment on defendant's failure to mention evidence can therefore turn silence to evidence

Protection of suspects

S76 of PACE-courts shall not allow statements obtained through oppression for evidence

  • Monitored by custody officer
  • Oppression being torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and use of/or threat of violence
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Searches, fingerprints and body samples




Police have no automatic right to search suspect at police station

  • custody officer has duty to record everything a person has with them on arrival to police station
  • if police think a search is necessary then a non intimate search may be made
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***** searches - Code C definition-involving the removal of more than one outer clothing

  • may only take place necessarily if detained person
    • needs to remove an article not allowed to keep
    • an article concealed on person
  • Not to take place in an area where search can be seen by any other person not needed to be present
  • No member of opposite sex should be present during strip search
  • Suspects should not be required to remove all their clothing at the same time

Intimate searches -Consists of the physical examination of a person's body orifices other than the mouth 

  • authorised by high ranking police officer if believed to have an item which could cause physical harm to selfs/others or in possession of a class A drug
  • drug related only carried out by doctor or nurse other searches carried out by suitably qualified person 
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Fingerprints can be taken prior to arrest to check against National Automated Fingerprint Identification system

Power can only be used where

  • officer reasonably suspects that person is committing/committed or attempting/attempted an offence
  • name of person is unknown 
  • officer has reasonable grounds for doubting whether name given is real name

Fingerprints can be taken at police station 

  • police will ask detainee to agree to this 
    • if consent not given police can use reasonable force

Records of fingerprints can be kept on police data even defendant not charged

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Non-Intimate samples

  • can be taken by taken by the police
  • police will try for consent by may use reasonable force to take samples

Intimate samples

  • a sample of blood,***** or any other tissue fluid, urine or pubic hair
  • dental impression
  • a swab taken form any part of a person's genitals/from a persons body orifice other than the mouth

Can only be taken by a doctor or a nurse

Sample will only be taken when there is reasonable ground for suspecting involvement in a recordable offence

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Complaints against the police

  • Person who believes police have exceeded their power may make a complaint to the police authorities
  • type of complaints determines how it is dealt with
    • minor complaints may be informally resolved if complainant agrees
  • complaints not resolved must be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission(IPCC)- set up by Police Reform Act 2002

Case that is referred to IPCC they decide how to investigated, several methods

  • independent investigation carried out by IPCC
  • managed investigation carried out by Professional Standards Department(PSD)-under direction of IPCC
  • supervised investigation by PSD under their own direction/control-IPCC set reference-PSD must report to IPCC
  • local investigation carried out solely by PSD
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Court actions

  • has been an allegation that a police officer has committed a crime
    • criminal proceedings may be taken against police officer
    • may be commenced by the Crown Prosecution Service 
    • or as private prosecution by the victim
  • a breach of civil rights
    • individual affected may take civil proceedings claiming compensation
    • Example
      • police have entered premises without a search warrant a claim for trespass could be made


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