Police Powers - Stop & Search.

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Police Powers

Stop & Search

Pace S1 - 7

The defendant and/or his vehicle may have been stopped and searched.

The police may only do this:

  1. In a public place - this is widely defined.
  2. If PC has reasonable grounds to suspect that there is possession of stolen goods or certain other prohibited articles.
  3. The PC must give his name, station and indicate the purpose of the search, (in Osman v DPP, the search was unlawful as police failed to identify themselves.)
  4. Make a written record.

A search in public is limited to removal of outer coat, jacket and gloves.

Code A states that suspects may not be stopped because of their appearance or previous convictions.

However, many suspects are stopped because of this.

The suspect may also have been stopped & searched under other acts such as The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or the Prevention of Terrorism Act or the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act.

There may also be a Voluntary search.

S4 PACE allows RoadBlocks to be set up if authorised & there is a reasonable suspicion that the perpetrator of a serious arrestable offence is in that area.

Search of Premises

Without Warrant

By S17, premises may be searched:

  • To find the suspect & to make an arrest with an arrest warrant, or without one is the offence is an arrestable offence.
  • To capture a person unlawfully at large
  • To protect others or serious damage to property.

 Reasons for entry must be given.


Premises controlled by an arrested person may be searched.

S32 also provides for premises to be searched without warrant e.g. if a PC has reasonable grounds to think he will find evidence of the offence.

Police can also enter premises - even private homes - to prevent a BREACH of the PEACE under common law.

Search Warrants - Code B


Magistrates may grant a SEARCH WARRANT - for one entry to take place within one month - where there are reasonable grounds for believing that a serious arrestable offence has been committed & the police have reasonable grounds for believing admissible evidence may be found on the premises.

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Search warrants are given to prevent any evidence being destroyed or removed.

Premises, persons and articles must be identified in the warrant. The police must identify themselves, produce & hand over a copy of the warrant at least before the search. The search must take place at a reasonable hour.

Methods of Arrest

The suspect may have been arrested without a warrant, with a warrant for his arrest or he may have been summonsed to attend the Magistrates Court.

Summons (not pace)

A summons is obtained by information being laid before a JP i.e. a statement informing JP that ...

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