Police Powers

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Police Powers

The main police powers are set out in Police and criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984.

Powers to Stop and Search

  • S1  - Gives the police the right to stop and search people and vehicles in a public place BUT only if there are REASONABLE GROUNDS for suspecting that the person is in possession of stolen goods or prohibited articles (eg. Weapons).
  • There are safeguards.  The police officer must give: -

  1. His name.
  2. Station.
  3. Reasons for the search.

  • In Osman v DPP – officers did not give their names and station hence the court held this made the search unlawful.
  • If the search is in public, police can only request that the suspect removes his outer layer of clothing (coat, jacket, gloves) – S2.
  • Police officer must make a written report after the search
  • Code A – states that police officers must not act because of person’s characteristics.  Still evidence that certain types of people are more likely to be stopped than other groups (eg. Black youths).
  • Police officers can also stop and search under other Acts (eg. Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, Prevention of Terrorism Act 1989).

Powers to Search Premises – (with a search warrant).

  • Police can enter premises without the occupier’s permission to make a search if a warrant authorising the search has been issued by a Magistrate.  This is contained in S8.  A warrant must: -

  1. State the premises to be searched and articles/person(s) to be found.
  2. Only authorises one entry on one occasion.
  3. Must enter and search at a reasonable hour (unless purpose of search would be frustrated (obstructed).
  4. The police must identify themselves as police officers.
  5. Must show warrant to any person at the premises.
  6. Must give the person a copy of the warrant.

However the courts have held that the police do not need to comply precisely with these requirements where it is inappropriate.

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NB – The police do not need to identify themselves or produce the warrant on entering the building ONLY when the actual search begins.  Longman – police had a warrant to search premises for drugs; they knew it was difficult to gain entry.  So, they arranged for a plain clothed police officer to act as a delivery girl and get occupants to open the door.  Once the door was open, police would burst into the premises.  The court held that they could use force or subterfuge (trickery) in order to gain entry with a search warrant.

Powers ...

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