Law-Police Powers



Powers to arrest: s.24 PACE amended by SOCPA (Serious organised crime and police act 2005)

When can they arrest you: Past- If they think you have committed a crime or you actually have. Present- Arrest you while you are committing the crime or reasonable suspicion you are committing a crime. Future-they believe you are about to commit a crime- information.

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Manner of arrest: 

  • Inform that you are under arrest
  • Tell you why
  • Read you your rights
  • Police Officer may use reasonable force 
  • May be searched for things they could use to esacaoke, stolen goods and evidence. 
  • Identify themeselves if not in uniform

Code G:

A lawful arrest requires 2 elements:

  •  A suspect's involvements(suspected or actual) 


  • Reasonable grounds for believing the arrest in necessary (necessity test) 
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Other Powers of Arrest

  • Arrest for breaching bail (CJPOA 1994)
  • Aggravated trespass (CJPOA 1994)
  • Arrest with a warrant- magistrates or judges
  • Arrest for breach of the peace- common law or judge made law 
  • McConnell v Cheif Constable of GM Police 
  • Arrest by private citizens- only for serious offences 

McConnell v Cheif Constable 

  • D was in a carpet shop and became abusive, and the shop owner phoned the police.
  • He left and then came back abusive again, so he was arrested. 
  • He appealed on the basis that it was a private property but the court said no. 
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Powers of Detention: 

  • Arrested person arrives at police station and the custody officer decides there is a reason to detain him.  They record anybody that goes into your cell and for what reason; also ensure you get your breaks. 


  • 6 hours- first review by custody officer
  • 15 hours and every 9 hours- second and subsequent reviews by custody officer.
  • 24 hours- summary offence, must be charged or release. For indictable offence, after 24 hours, the permission of a superintendent is needed to etent the detention to 36 hours. 
  • 36 hours- for indictable offences the police- apply to magistrates to extend the period of detention. 
  • 96 hours- maximum time for detaining an arrest person. Police must charge or release the suspect. (except under the Terroism Act 2000).
  • 14 days- Terroist suspect can be detained for that long.
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  • To have someone informed of their detention (s56 PACE) 
  • To be told the right to legal advice (s58 PACE)
  • To be consult the Codes of Practice (Code C) 
  • The right to an interpreter 
  • The right to medical assistence


  • They can sometimes be delayed for up to 36 hours for an indictable offence- they typically do this in the rights to inform someone of detention or right to legal aid since sometimes it could compromise evidence. 
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  • The room must be adequatley heated, lit and ventilated- they do not have to stand, the person being interviewed must be offered a seat (PACE Code C) 


  • All of the interview has to be recorded, the time it started, any breaks that happen (eg meals, break every 2 hours), anyone who enters or leaves the room. 


  • There must be an appropriate adult present if the suspect being interviewed is under the age of 17 or are physically or mentally disordered. 
  • R v Aspinall- Paranoid schizophenic- didn't have an appropriate adult- case was thrown out of court. 
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  • Under CJPOA 1994 if a suspect remains silent during the interview then it will be used as evidence against you. 
  • Only time it won't be held against if your solicitor told you not to say anyhting. 


  • s.76 Police cannot obtain evidence through oppression e.g. torture, inhumane treatment or threats . 
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***** SEARCH: 

  • Defined in Code C 
  • Should be done in a private room 
  • Same sex officer 
  • They can't remove all the clothing at once, in sections 
  • They can use reasonable force if you refuse
  • They are looking for stolen goods and prohibited articles


  • Can be done if its believed the suspect is concealing an item which could cause harm or class A drugs. 
  • Any orifice other than the mouth
  • Done by a doctor or nurse
  • Authorised by high ranking officer
  • If need to be done in an emergency, officer may do it 
  • Connot use reasonable force if you refuse.
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  • Police may take fingerprints and non-intimate samples such as body fluids- saliva, hair other than pubic hair, samples from nails or under them. 
  • The suspect does not need to be charged with any offence or cautioned. In some circumstances the use of reasonable force is allowed too. Samples and fingerprints can be kept by the police for the purposes of future investigations.


  • Initmate samples include: blood, semen, urine, pubic hair, dental impression or swab from genitals. They can only be taken by a doctor or nurse.
  • The taking of such samples must be authorised by the officer with the rank of Inspector and such authority as well as the consent of the suspect must be in writing. 
  • They cannot use reasonable force. 
  •  The Inspector must be satisfied and must believe that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect may have committed a particular offence and it is essential to take the sample in order to confirm the same.
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Limitations on Arrest : Necessity Test- a pc can only arrest if they believe they have reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary to arrest you for one of the following reasons:

  • Check persons name and address
  • Prevent suspect causing injury to hinself or others or from suffering injury.
  • Suspect may cause loss or damage to property
  • Suspect may cause offence to public decency.
  • Suspect may cause obstruction to the highway
  • To protect a child or vulnerable adult/person
  • To allowswift investigation of offence
  • To prevent justice being prevented bby disappearance of suspect.
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Stop and Search

Individual v Society

  • Police Powers are a blance between individual freedom and detention.
  • Police need powers to search, detain and arrest to do their job.
  • These powers do infringe on the right of individuals.

Section 1-7 of PACE Act 1984 give an officer the power to stop, search and detain individuals on the street.

  • The Police officer must give his name, station and reason for the search.

Michaels v Highbury Corner Magistrates Court 2009

  • He was stop and search but the officer did not give their name or station.
  • He won his case- unlawful search.
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Stop and Search

  • An officer must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that he will find stolen or prohibited articles.
  • Offensive weapons:
    • Articles with blade or which are sharply pointed; Articles made or adapted for use in burglary, theft, taking a conveyance without consent, obtaining property by deception or criminal dmaage;
      • Any fire works
      • Drugs
      • Alcohol
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Stop and Search

Code A:

  • Any person can be stopped but must adhere to Code A.
  • Cannot stop for age, race, appearance, known criminal, sexual orientation but if they are a known gang who are likely to carry weapons etc.
  • Public place, including car parks and gardens if they believe you do not like there.
  • Any vehicle e.g. Cars, boats etc
  • Anything which is in or on a vehicle.
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Stop and Search

For a police officer to stop and search someone on the street they need reasonable suspicion to do so, which includes:

  • Behaviour
  • Smell
  • Sound
  • Information
  • Description

When in public the police during a Stop and Search can ask you to remove (s29 PACE):

  • Coat
  • Gloves
  • Jackets
  • Jumpers

When in private (detention, must take place close near the stop)  they can ask you to remove Shirt and Shoes.

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Stop and Search

Safeguards: Go Wisely

  • G- Grounds for the search
  • O- Object of search
  • W- Warrant card (if in plain clothes).
  • I-Identify. The officer must identify themeselves.
  • S- Station where the officer works.
  • E-Entitlement to a copy of the search.
  • L- Legal power being used for the detention.
  • Y-You are being detained for the purpose of a search...The person must be informed they are being detained.

At the end of a stop and search a policeman must give you a slip recording the search and then you will be free to go. After that he may arrest you, if they find stolen goods or prohibated iteams.

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Stop and Search

Other powers:

  • Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
    • For poessession of controlled substances s23
    • Can ask you to remove your shoes.
  • Terrorism Act 2000
    • s43 and s44 in anticipation of terror
    • They can ask you to remove your headgear and shoes.
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJPOA)
    • s60 power exist in anticipation of violence e.g. a riot and by a senior officer
    • Authorised by a senior officer.
    • Can stop anyone without the grounds of reasonable suspicion.

Under all acts police can use reasonable force if met with resistence.

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Stop and Search


  • Black people are 6 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched- racisim, police prejudice.
  • Police often overuse their powers to stop and search. Abuse of it- "reasonable" suspicion.
  • The number of searches under PACE have increased.
  • Does it lead to arrest? Only 10% of stop and searches lead to arrest.
  • Waste of Police resources and time
    • However, if they didn't stop and search more people may carry prohibited articles.
  • Reasonable force- What is classed as reasonable force?
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Stop and Search

Safeguards of Stop and Search for individual:

  • Code A
  • Sections 1-7 of PACE
  • Grounds for search
  • They have to say their name and station
    • Accountability
  • Limit on what clothes can be removed
    • Protects your dignity
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