Police Powers - Stop and Search, and Arrest

english legal system - police powers 'stop and search, and arrest'

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Stop and Search Acts

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

  • S1(1) - search must be in a public place; where public has access on payment (cinema, zoo, bowling) or otherwise or by virtue of express or implied permission (school, court, supermarket). In any other place to which people have ready access at the time (schoolfield, derelict buildings), but which is not a dwelling
  • S1(2) - a constable may search any vehicle or person or anything which is in or on a vehicle for stolen and prohibited articles, they may detain persons or vehicles for the purpoes of such a search.
  • S1(4) - constable cannot stop and search anyone who is in any garden, yard or land adjacent to a dwelling unless he has reasonable grounds to believe that they don't reside in the dwelling, and, that they aren't in the place in question with express or implied permission of the person who does reside.
  • S1(6) - prohibited or stolen articles can be seized such as; offensive weapon; anything used in theft, burglary or cheat; articles used to commit offences (spray cans, knife etc); prohibited fireworks
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Stop and Search Acts continued

Code A of PACE

  • reasonable suspicion can never be supported on the basis of personal factors alone without reliables supporting evidence or information or some specific behaviour by the person concerned.
  • for example, a person's race, age or appearance or the fact that the person is know to have previous convictions can't be used alone or in combination of each other.
  • reasonable suspicion can't be based on generalisations or stereotypical images of particular groups.
  • an officer must exercise their judgement without prejudice and act objectively on the facts known to them
  • the officer must be able to justify the stop search, a written record must be made at the time or as soon as possible after
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The officer must give the person being searched the following information;

  • G rounds for seach
  • O bject of search
  • W arrant number
  • I dentity of searching officer
  • S tationed at
  • E ntitlement to search form

Osman v DPP 1999

  • a search was held to be invalid because the searching officer failed to give his name and station
  • thhis meant that Mr Osman was not guilty of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty
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Conduct of Search

  • police must minimise embarrassment
  • co-operation must always be sought - but reasonable force can be used
  • search must be carried out either at the place where the person was first detained or nearby
  • search must be confined to the nature of the article sought and the circumstances
  • an officer not in uniform may not stop a vehicle for the purposes of searching it
  • S2 PACE states that a constable cannot require a person in public to remove anything other than outer clothing
  • if on reasonable grounds a more thorough search is necessary then it must be in a private place by an officer of the same sex
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Other Powers of Stop and Search

Power under Sporting Events Act 1985

  • aimed to prevent alcohol related 'football hooliganism' giving officers the power to stop and search people and vehicles on the way to sporting events

S60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

  • where serious violence is anticipated and officer of superintendant rank and above may authorise stop and searches by constables in uniform in a specified locality for a period of 24 hours. no need for reasonable suspicion

Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989

  • an officer of the rank of assistant chief constable or above may authorise stop searches to prevent terrorism in a specified locality for a period of 28 days. reasonable suspicion not needed
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Individual Rights

Individuals are Protected

  • the police must record both stop and searches since Criminal Justice Act 2003, this means that the officer must justify in writing why they are stopping and searching a suspect so it is harder for them to 'make up' reasons to stop and search
  • need reasonable suspicion according to Code A, this stops discrimination against people as the person can't be stopped and searched due to race, age, appearance and previous convictions
  • search must be in a public place from s1(1) PACE, this stops harrassment and people being scared
  • can't be stopped in a dwelling from s1(4) PACE, this keeps private property private to home owners
  • GOWISE has to be followed according to Code A, this means evidence can't be used if GOWISE hasn't been followed
  • only outer clothing can be removed for a search from s2 PACE, this stops embarrassment
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Individual Rights continued

Individuals aren't Protected

  • some people are 'bamboozled' into searches by the police, as most people don't know what their rights are and officers may not explain to them that they can refuse a search if the officer doesn't have reasonable suspicion under s1 PACE
  • police officers may abuce their rights under other legislation, they may use s60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act so they don't need reasonable suspicion
  • also, reasonable suspicion under Code A, is very difficult to prove
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Arrest with a Warrant

The police can make an application to a Magistrate for a warrant to arrest a named person. This is issued under s1 Magistrates Court Act 1980. This warrant will only be granted if the offence involved is punishable by imprisonment.

Arrest without a Warrant

The main power for police to arrest without a warrant are outlined in s24 PACE;

  • anyone who is in the act of committing an offence
  • anyone whom he has reasonable grounds to suspect is committing an offence
  • anyone who has committed an offence
  • where an offence has been committed, anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty
  • anyone who is about to commit an arrestable or non-arrestable offence
  • anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to about to commit an arrestable or non-arrestable offence
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Limits on Arrest

An Officer can only arrest if he has reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary to make the arrest for one of the following reasons:

  • to enable the person's name and address to be ascertained
  • to prevent the person;
    • causing physical injury to himself or any other people
    • suffering physical injury
    • causing loss of or damage to property
    • committing an offence against public decency
    • causing 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 prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question
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Guidelines of Arrest

Code of Practice G

  • s2(1) - a lawful arrest requires two elements; a person's involvment or suspected involvement or attempted involvement and; reasonable grounds for belieiving that the persons arrest is necessary
  • s2(2) - arresting officers are required to inform the person arrested that they are being arrested, even if it is obvious

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

  • added an extra power of arrest to PACE; s46 gives the police the right to arrest withough a warrant anyone who, having being released on police bail, fails to attend to police station at the set time

Arrest for Breach of the Peace

  • can be used when there is a sufficiently real and present threat to the peace
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Citizens Arrest

The Facts

  • s24 PACE allows a person other than a constable to arrest anyone who is committing or has committed an indictable or triable either way offence
  • also, if an offence has not been committed and a citizens arrest is made then the arrest may not be lawful

R V Self 1992

  • an off duty PC was suspected of theft by a store detective
  • store detective and another arrested the officer, who stuggled to get free
  • he was charged with theft and assault with intent to resist arrest
  • CA held that there was no offence made and so the arrest was unlawful and so PC couldn't be charged with either offence as he was in his own right to resist an unlawful arrest
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