Police Powers Revision Notes

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  • Created by: Elise
  • Created on: 21-04-13 16:51

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 offence.

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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