3 Police Powers - Student Revision Notes

AS English Legal System
Police Powers
Summary - Police Powers
Student Revision Notes
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about:
Stop and Search / Road Blocks
Page 2
Search of Premises
Page 4
Page 6
Detention at the Police Station
Page 8
Complaints against the Police
Page 12
The Runciman Commission
Page 12
Summary of Key PACE sections
Page 13
This guide will focus on a key piece of legislation – the POLICE AND
CRIMINAL EVIDENCE ACT 1984 (PACE). This important Act covers the
powers exercised by the Police and attempts to ensure that safeguards are in
place to prevent people being harassed and intimidated by the Police and to
make sure that a basic set of guidelines are in place to protect suspects in
police custody.
You also need to remember the 5 codes of practice contained in section 66 of
 Code A Powers of stop and search.
 Code B Powers to search premises and seize property.
 Code C Detention, treatment and questioning of suspects.
 Code D Rules for identification procedures.
 Code E Tape recording of interviews with suspects.
AS English Legal System
Police Powers
Summary - Police Powers
Student Revision Notes
Other key pieces of legislation refered to in this guide
 Misuse of Drugs Act – 1971
 Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act – 1989
 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act – 1994
 Magistrates’ Courts Act – 1980
 Criminal Justice Act – 2003 (2005)
1. Stop and Search
This section is about the powers of the Police in relation to stop and
The relevant sections of the POLICE AND CRIMINAL EVIDENCE ACT
(PACE) are provided for you in large numbers on the left of the page.
The Powers of the Police
The key sections of PACE for Stop and Search are sections
The police have a general power to stop and ask questions
but you can (politely) decline to answer (Rice v Connolly
However rudely refusing can amount to the obstruction of a
police officer in the execution of his duty (Ricketts v Cox
If a police officer wants to actually detain you in
order to search you and ask questions he must
have ‘reasonable grounds’ for suspicion.
is a key
They must have reasonable suspicion that they
term for this
will find stolen/prohibited articles / offensive
weapons and, since CJA (2003) anything that
could be used for criminal damage – i.e.
spray paint for tagging.
They can search your vehicle or what you are carrying e.g
If you refuse to consent they can use reasonable force
You can be forced to open your mouth.
If you resist you could be committing an obstruction.
If in a public place, you may have to remove outer clothing
(s 2 (9))
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Police Powers
Summary - Police Powers
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Section 60 of the CJPOA 1994 (Criminal Justice and
Public Order Act) is unique because where authorised by a
Superintendent, the police can randomly stop and search
people/vehicles in an area for a period of 24hours if there is
chance that violence may occur. It is unique because there is
no need for reasonable suspicion.
Other Acts which allow stop and search with reasonable
suspicion include - Sporting Events Act 1985, Prevention
of Terrorism 1989, Misuse of Drugs 1971, CJPOA 1994.
Safeguards to Protect the Public
You must be told -
1. Name of the officer
2. Station of the officer
3. Reason for the search
Failure to disclose this info
may mean that charges may
be dropped at a later date.
DPP v Osman 1999
If he or she is not in uniform, the police officer must show his/her warrant
card - Kenlin v Gardiner (1967).
The police can tap you on the shoulder to get your attention, but not
physically detain you to ask you questions - Donnolly v Jackman (1970).
Your consent should be asked for (but your refusal could amount to an
The police cannot search a person simply hoping to find something.
Reasonable suspicion must not be based on personal factors alone,
i.e .– hairstyle, dress, previous convictions or race - (Code A para 1.7)
They must search you in a public place i.e. a pub car park.
They can’t search you if you are in a house or flat unless they have
reasonable suspicion for believing that you do not live there or do not have
permission to be there.
They must not use excessive force as this may be an assault or battery.
If the police confiscate any of your property they must
give you a receipt.
Korn, System of a
A written record must be kept of the search (s3).
If the officers want to do a more thorough search they Down and Cradle
must take a suspect to the station.
of Filth CDs. One
The police officer must make a written record of any Kylie Poster.
search (unless it is impossible in the circumstances).
You are entitled to a copy of it if requested within one
E. Morse
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The record should include the reason and what is being looked for,
date, time place, results, notes of injury or damage and the identity of
the officer.
If the officer suspects you of an offence you must be cautioned before
you are questioned.
CAUTION – ‘You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your
defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you
later rely on in Court. Anything you say may be given in evidence.’
Road Blocks
Section 4 of PACE gives permission for the police to stop
vehicles in an area where there is reasonable suspicion
that a person who has committed a serious arrestable
offence is at large.
This power is authorised by a Superintendent or another
officer of a high rank.
However an ordinary officer may authorise road checks if
• The police must have reasonable suspicion
• If the officer suspects you of an offence you must be cautioned before
you are questioned.
• You must be given a receipt for anything confiscated.
Extra Information to impress those examiners . . .
Research by Sanders in 1993 showed that knowledge of previous
convictions was one of the main factors which led the police to stop and
Home Office statistics show that there has been a significant increase in
the use of stop and search powers. From 100,000 in 1986 to over 1 million
in 1998.
Only 10% of searches lead to an arrest, this means of the 1,000,000
people stopped, 900,000 are stopped and searched unnecessarily.
Home Office statistics in 1997-98 show that black people are 5 times
more likely to be stopped than white people.
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2. Search of Premises
The Powers of the Police
The police have the powers to search your home/premises with and
without a warrant.
 Search of premises with a warrant is covered by section 8 of PACE and
search without a warrant is covered by section 17. It’s important for you
to remember that there are also other Acts which give the police rights to
search without a warrant – such as, the Sporting Events Act (1985),
Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) and the CJPOA (1984).
 The police have the powers to search premises to collect evidence or to
arrest someone. Sometimes they will need a warrant, sometimes they will
Searching with a warrant: s.8
Under this section, the police must obtain a search warrant
from a Magistrate to enter premises without the owners
To be granted a warrant to search premises the Magistrate must be satisfied
that . . .
 The police have reasonable grounds for believing that a serious
arrestable offence has been committed.
 That there is material on the premises (evidence) that is highly valuable
to the police investigation.
Other factors which may influence a search without a warrant include:
 The fact that it might not be practical to communicate to the owner of the
property (they might be on holiday, for instance).
 It might be believed that entry will be refused unless a search warrant is
 The purpose of the search might be defeated if the police cannot gain
immediate entry – for instance, if the police cannot gain immediate
access then important evidence may be moved or destroyed.
Under s.16 of PACE and Code B, the warrant must specify . . .
 The address to be searched.
 The articles to be looked for (as far as the police can
describe them specifically).
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Other factors relating to the use of a warrant include . . .
 It may only be used once.
 It must be used within 1 month of its date of issue.
 The search must take place at a reasonable time (unless a search in
‘normal’ hours might reduce the prospect of discovering key evidence).
 The Police are required to identify themselves, show the person the
warrant and give them a copy.
 A reason for the search must be given. If not, then the
search is unlawful – check out O’Loughlin v Chief
Constable of Essex (1988).
 None of the requirements we have listed here have to be
done before entry to the premises but must be carried
out before the search begins. To illustrate this
particular point don’t forget the case of R v Longman
(1988) – it’s the one where the Police Officer was
dressed as an Interflora delivery girl.
Searching without a warrant: s17
In certain cases the Police do not need to obtain a warrant before carrying
out a search. These powers are covered by section 17 of PACE and are as
 In order to arrest someone already named in an arrest warrant.
 To recapture an escaped criminal.
 After an officer has made an arrest then he/she can carry out an
immediate search of the persons’ property to look for evidence
(s18) or of any other property owned by them (s32).
 If the police have entered a property to arrest someone they must then
carry out any search immediately – they cannot return later and do it.
Check out the key case of R v Badham (1987) to illustrate this point.
 Check out the key case of McLeod v Commissioner of the Metropolitan
Police (1994) which deals with the right of the Police to remain on
premises without a warrant in order to prevent a breach of the peace.
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Finally, what could you do if you think the Police have exceeded their
 You could try to make a claim for civil damages under the tort of
 If you are criminally prosecuted for a crime and the evidence has been
unlawfully obtained your solicitor/barrister could ask the judge to exclude
that evidence from being used at your trial using s78 of PACE.
3. Arrest
Powers of the Police
The majority of people are not arrested but sent a
summons (official letter) to attend court. However the
police can arrest suspects with and without a warrant
from a Magistrate.
Arrest WITHOUT a warrant - s.24
An officer can arrest without a warrant a person
whom they reasonably suspect . . .
Is just about to…
Is in the process of committing…
Has just committed…
Chief Constable of RUC
There doesn’t have to be concrete
proof of a crime – ‘reasonable
suspicion’ is enough.
An arrestable offence is…
1. A crime which has a fixed sentence i.e. Murder.
2. A crime which may receive a sentence of over 5 years i.e. Theft
(maximum 7 years), ABH (maximum 5 years), Rape (maximum life
imprisonment), Robbery (maximum life imprisonment).
3. Any offence which Parliament has stated is an arrestable offence i.e.
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Other general powers of arrest without a warrant
As well as the above, the police have general powers of arrest under s25 of
PACE. A police officer can arrest a suspect without a warrant if . . .
The suspect will not give his name and address,
But officer, I
or the police officer reasonably suspects that it is a
am She–
false name/address (or address is unsuitable for a
summons to be sent in the post i.e. a park bench).
Princess of
The arrest is necessary to prevent harm to a
person or property, or even the suspect themselves.
Section 26 of PACE allows the police to arrest a
suspect without a warrant if he/she is causing a breach
of the peace. To illustrate this particular aspect of
PACE you could refer to the case of McConnell v
Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police
Section 46 of PACE allows the police to arrest a suspect for
skipping bail.
• If the police wish to make an arrest some time after the crime has taken
place then they must get a warrant from a Magistrate.
• The officer must convince the Magistrate that they have ‘reasonable
grounds’ for believing that the suspect has committed the offence.
Extra Information - the examiners LOVE this stuff . . .
Under s5 of the Public Order Act 1986, a police officer can arrest,
without a warrant, someone who commits disorderly conduct as long as
he/she has been warned once to stop and has continued.
You can commit a breach of the peace even on private premises i.e. a
shop. Check out that McConnell case again (1990).
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Arrest WITH a warrant s1 Magistrates Court Act 1980
 The police can obtain a warrant from a Magistrate.
 This is done if the investigation has been on-going i.e. a
murder, and the police have identified the murderer and want
to bring him in. The police can’t arrest him without a warrant
because he hasn’t ‘just committed’ the offence.
 If the warrant is required urgently and the Magistrates Court
is not in session, the police may track down a Magistrate to
his/her home address to obtain their consent.
 When an arrest warrant has been granted, a police officer
may enter and search premises to make an arrest, using
‘reasonable force’ (s117 PACE)
To be granted a warrant a police officer must :
1. Apply in writing, stating the reasons why the person in question should
be arrested and detain in custody.
2. The officer must then back up this statement orally and under oath.
3. For the warrant to hold legal status it must specify:
 The name of the wanted person e.g Darren Smith
 The particulars of the offence e.g Robbery, contrary to s8 of the Theft
Act 1968.
Manner of arrest
Contrary to popular belief, as long as the suspect is aware that he/she
is under arrest and what for, then the arrest is lawful.
 Both the police and citizens can effect an arrest.
 The person arrested must be informed that he/she is under arrest as
soon as is practically possible.
 The suspect must always be given grounds for that arrest, even if it is
perfectly obvious - see Christie v Leachinsky (1947) - if not, then it is
 There are no set form of words that have to be used, and language such
as “you’re nicked for doing that robbery” will do as long as long as the
person is aware they are under arrest – that’s why the PC will ask ‘do you
 The suspect must be cautioned before questioning.
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Extra Information from those people at the HOME OFFICE
Check out these arrest statistics
 85% arrested were male
 54% unemployed
 17% cautioned
 13% referred to a juvenile agency
 20% no action taken
 Women and juveniles were more likely to have no further action taken
against them than men
Citizens arrest s24 PACE
 An ordinary citizen can arrest someone who is reasonably suspected to be
committing an arrestable offence, and where such an offence has been
committed, anyone who is reasonably suspected of being guilty of it. R v
Self (1992).
 If the offence has not actually been committed by anyone (or the arrested
person has been acquitted) then the citizen may be liable for damages.
Walters v WH Smith (1914)
4. Detention at the police station
Powers of the Police
The first thing to note is the length of time that the police may legally
hold you in custody. This is covered by sections 34-36 in PACE,
 The custody officer is responsible for you – he/she will
open the custody record and take down everything that
happens to you at the police station.
 If the custody officer decides that there is enough
evidence then you will be charged, if not then you will
either be released or questioned further.
 The Custody Officer must review your case after 6 hours.
The second review should take place after 15 hours and
every 9 hours after.
 For a normal offence the suspect will either be charged or
released after 36 hrs. (Previously 24 hours before the
2003 CJA)
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After 36 hours, further detention needs to be
authorised by a Magistrate. This may last up to 96
So . . . after 96 hours, the Police must charge you or
release you. Unless . . .
. . . they suspect you of being a terrorist, in which case
the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions)
Act 1989 allows detention for up to 48 extra hours and
up to FIVE days with the agreement of the Home
Secretary – a total of 7 days,
Safeguards to protect the Public
 You can request to have a copy of the custody report (within a year).
 You should sign a custody record to show you have been told of these
 You should be given written notice of right to legal advice.
 If you are under 18 then you need an appropriate adult present.
 Custody officer must check you every hour (every 15 minutes if you
are a suicide risk).
 A Custody Officer will review your case after 6 hrs and then every 9hrs
to ensure that there are still grounds to hold you.
 Your rights in custody include - medical attention, a clean cell that has
heating and light, clean bedding, 2 light meals and one main meal in
24hours with drinks, 8 hours rest.
Legal advice: s58
The police normally encourage a suspect to have legal advice.
This also protects them from any later criticism. If the suspect
does not have his own solicitor then a ‘duty solicitor’ will be
provided. His/her advice is free.
‘Get me that dodgy geezer who
Phil in ‘Eastenders’ always calls’.
 Once you have asked to see a solicitor you should not be
interviewed without one unless it is a serious arrestable
offence then the suspect can only be denied it if it is
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believed there may be an attempt to pervert the course of justice. e.g tip off
an accomplice/move evidence.
 But if the suspect has already been allowed a phone call
 home or to a friend, then you cannot be denied the right to legal
advice/representation – R v Samuel (1988)
Right to have someone informed: s56
 You have the right to have someone informed. However this may
be suspended for 36hrs if it is a serious arrestable offence and
the Police believe that evidence may be moved or tampered with.
 You do not have the right to inform your relative/mate yourself. The
officer may do it for you instead. This is to reduce the possibility of
‘coded’ messages . . .
‘. . . and, er, take
the hamster for a
walk . . . yeah?’
 Phone calls: Under Code C, you do not have the right under
PACE to make a phone call. But Code C says if possible you
should be allowed (remember, the codes are not binding).
Interviews at the police station: s. 53
These used to be hand written but are now taped on a double deck
tape recorder.
 If the suspect is under 18 or has mental problems / learning difficulties then
an appropriate adult must be present (R v Aspinall. 1999).
 A suspect can request legal advice – this may be denied in certain
 Suspect must be allowed to sit down.
 8hours break in 24 hours.
 Break and refreshment every 2 hours.
 Suspects must be reminded they are under caution.
 The interview room must be adequately lit and ventilated.
 Suspects must be informed of the names of interviewing officers.
 Interviews should be recorded, with times and names of those present.
 There should be 2 tapes, one for the defence and one for the prosecution.
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 The suspect is entitled to a copy of the tape.
 If a confession if made outside the police station any information
disclosed must be put to the suspect again at the beginning of any tape
recorded interview that subsequently takes place.
Remaining silent when interviewed: 34-39 CJPOA
 If the suspect refuses to speak then this may be referred to
and commented on during a future trial. CJPOA (1994) ss3439.
 However they must have evidence against you, your silence
alone is never enough to convict you – R v Cowan (1995).
Forced confessions: s76
 If it is alleged that the confession was forced out of the
suspect, or that he was denied any breaks e.g food, toilet,
sleep breaks this evidence may be deemed inadmissible at
a later trial.
Searches: s54-55
On arrival in the Police Station, the Custody Officer takes
possession of any of the suspects possessions and a written
record is kept.
 The custody officer can also authorise a strip search.
 Strip searches must be carried out by a same sex officer and not in the
presence of the opposite sex.
 The suspect must have 50% of their body covered at all times.
 Under 18 need an appropriate adult unless it’s urgent and there is a risk
of serious harm or you or the adult agree.
Intimate searches 54-55
 These involve your ‘cavities’ and your private bits . . .
 Need a Superintendent’s permission.
 Need reasonable grounds to believe you have concealed an article which
could cause physical injury to you or others or a Class A drug.
 Ears, nose, anus or vagina.
 Reasons should b explained to you.
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 Should be carried out by a doctor or nurse at hospital/surgery
 If urgent can be done by an officer of the same sex.
Body samples: s.62-63
62-63  Can
be used as
 May take fingerprints,
‘OK, Nurse
intimate samples.
 Intimate samples –
I’m going in.’
blood, semen, urine,
public hair (can be
plucked) swabs taken
from ears, nose, anus,
impressions (CJPOA
 Non-initimate samples – Hair from your hair, fingernail
scrapings, saliva, swabs from mouth, footprints.
 Before 2003 (CJA) fingerprints or samples taken had to be destroyed if the
suspect was not charged or is later found not guilty. s61. They may
now be kept as part of a national criminal data-base.
 All intimate samples other than urine should be taken by a nurse, doctor
or dentist.
 Can only take intimate samples if Superintendent has reasonable
grounds to believe it will prove/disprove your involvement in a recordable
offence (very wide) and there is consent.
 Non-intimate samples can be taken without consent using reasonable
force if the Superintendent has reasonable grounds to believe it will
prove/disprove your involvement in a recordable offence –or you are
charged with a recordable offence.
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5. Complaints against the Police
You could try complaining to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Minor complaints
 Dealt with informally. If proved you will get an apology
 If disciplinary action is thought to be necessary it is investigated by the
police force concerned.
 If involves a high-ranking officer it is carried out by another police force.
Serious Complaints
 These are referred to the IPCC. If a serious offence may have been
committed the file must go to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to
decide whether to prosecute.
Court Actions
 Criminal assault proceedings can be started against the police.
Civil Courts
 Tort of tresspass to property (entering without a search warrant).
 Tresspass to the person (where an arrest is unlawful) Damages can
also arise from false arrest and malicious prosecution.
6. The Importance of the Runcimann Commission
A good starting point on which to base a discussion of the work and
recommendations of the Runciman Commission could be the range of
miscarriages of justice that came to light during the 1980s. Use the internet to
research the following cases:
The Guildford Four
The Birmingham Six
The Maguires
Judith Ward
The Tottenham Three
Stefan Kiszko
All the above cases (you will find) raised serious doubts about the way in
which people were detained and then interviewed by the Police. As a
consequence of these cases, in March 1991, the Home Secretary set up a
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Royal Commission on Criminal Justice to be chaired by Lord Runciman –
hence the ‘Runciman Commission’.
The Runciman Commission reported in 1993 in a document containing over
350 recommendations. It’s not important that you know all the
recommendations, but you could impress an examiner if you had the
opportunity to provide a brief overview. Don’t forget – these are simply
recommendations. The Government at the time (and subsequent
administrations) are not obliged to implement every suggestion made by
Runciman. Here are some of them . . .
We recommend . . .
An independent body to investigate miscarriages of justice.
Recommendations on disclosure of evidence.
Recommendations on jury eligibility.
Juries in cases involving ethnic minorities.
24 hour videoing of custody suites.
Over 200 of the 352 recommendations have been accepted.
46 have been rejected.
Miscarriages of justice continue to be uncovered. Check out the following:
Stephen Dowling.
Sally Clarke.
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6. Summary of Key PACE sections (with one or two
bits from other key pieces of legislation chucked in as
PACE –Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
s.1-7 Stop and search
PC must state name , station, reason for the search (if one of these is
missing then the search is unlawful Osman v DPP (1999)
(9) suspect only has to remove outer clothes
A written record must be kept
Road blocks can be authorised
s.117 Reasonable force can be used
s.60 CJPOA Can stop and search at random, with permission of a senior
officer, in anticipation of violence in an area for 24 hrs.
Arrest without a warrant for a serious arrestable offence
s.24 Also covers a citizens arrest. Can only arrest if offence is in progress or
immediately after, not before (R v Self 1992) If mistaken person can sue
(Walters v WH Smith 1914)
s.25 PC can arrest without a warrant where the suspect will not gave name,
address or the PC has reason to believe it is false (the suspected crime does
not have to be serious) to protect another, the suspect himself, or property
from harm.
Arrest without a warrant for a breach of the peace
Arrest without a warrant for skipping bail
s.117 Reasonable force
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s.1 Magistrates Court Act 1980 – arrest with a warrant
s.34-46 Covers time in custody
Interviews must be tape recorded
s.53 Vulnerable person must have a responsible adult present (R v
Aspinall 1999)
ss. 54-55 Strip searches/ confiscate possessions
Right to have someone informed
s.58 Right to legal advice (this cannot be denied if the suspect has be
allowed to have someone informed R v Samuel 1988)
Fingerprints must be destroyed if suspect is released or later acquitted
s.62-63 Rules governing body samples
Confessions made under duress may be thrown out of court
ss34-39 CJPOA 1994 if suspect remains silent the this may be used in
evidence against him, but silence alone is not enough to convict, there must
be evidence against the suspect R v Cowan (1995)
To test your knowledge of Police Powers . . .
Use this guide to complete the
exercise on
‘Darren Scrote – Rock Star’
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Or . . . check out the model answers on Police powers . . .
both available from