January 2014 articles archive:

The powers the police have to search people and premises.

Article shared with kind permission of Conor Hunt (Student).

First of all we will look at the police powers to search people.

Stop and search:

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Section 1 sets out the provisions for the police to carry out stop and search, it is supplemented by PACE Code A 2013.

Police officers can carry out a stop and search if they have reasonable grounds to suspect any of the following:

  • You fit the description of someone the police want to talk about a crime.

  • There has been a crime nearby and the police want to question you about it.

  • The police suspect you to be carrying stolen property or illegal drugs.

  • The police suspect you of carrying something you could commit a crime with, such as knives, firearms or other weapons.

If they stop you they must tell you their name and their police station, why they want to search you and what they may have reason to find. They must explain to the person about to be searched why they have the authority to do so and that a record of the search will be available to them and tell them how they can obtain a copy.

You may be asked to remove your gloves, jacket and coat and your bags, wallet or purse may be searched.

If it is necessary to take off more than just gloves, jacket and coat or if you need to take off any items that you wear for religious reasons, such as a face scarf, veil or turban, the police will take you somewhere out of public view for your own privacy. In this instance the search must be carried out by a police officer of the same sex as the person being searched. It does not mean that you are being arrested.


Searching an arrested person:

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Section 32 sets out the provisions for the police to search a person after arrest.

Search after arrest can take place when the police:

  • Believe you may be in danger to yourself or others.

  • Suspect you may be carrying an item that could help you escape.

  • Think you may be carrying something that could be used as evidence of crime.

  • Need to check the belongings you have brought to the police station.


Now we will look at the police powers to search premises.

PACE Code B 2013 deals with the powers the police have to search premises and seize and retain property found on premises and persons. It must be adhered to by the police when carrying out a search of premises.


The police can enter premises and search a house if they have reasonable grounds for suspicion. The police do not always need to have a warrant to search premises, but they do need to have a good reason for doing so. They also need to be careful when searching premises because if they are found to have carried out the search improperly anything they find as evidence cannot be used, a court of law will not allow it.

Searches with consent :

The police are able to search your premises if you have given them permission to do so. The permission you give should be in writing if practicable, and the officer conducting the search should ascertain that the person giving their consent is the right person to do so.

The police are supposed to tell you why the search is taking place specifying if possible what or whom they are looking for and where they will be looking. The person consenting to the search must be informed that he does not have to consent to the search and that he can withdraw his consent at any time.

The police can then take items that they consider to be evidential that they can use.

In the case of a rented property it is not enough for the landlord to consent to the search it should be the tenant or lodger whose consent is sought.


Searches with a warrant :

The police must comply with the procedural rules set out in Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Section 15 and 16.

If the police want to enter premises without the consent of the owner, then they will have to apply for a warrant from the Magistrates' court. If this is the case, what the police are looking for is likely to be very important to the investigation of the offence.

Before the magistrate will issue a warrant to the police, they have to make sure that everything is in agreement with the provisions set out in PACE. The police will need to show that:

  • A serious offence has been committed.

  • The material on the premises is likely to be relevant evidence and that it will be admissible in court if the case comes to trial.

  • The occupier of the property is unlikely to consent to the search.

Once a warrant is issued the search must be carried out within three months of issue or within the time-scale stated on the warrant. Unless there is a good reason for it the search should take place at a reasonable time of day.

Police powers to enter premises without a warrant :

The conditions under which an officer may enter and search premises without a warrant

are set out in Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Section 17.


Sometimes the police can enter premises without a warrant or the owner’s consent. These situations are:

  • To arrest someone.

  • The recapture of a person who has escaped from lawful custody.

  • To save life or limb.

  • To prevent serious damage to property.

Search of premises of an arrested person:

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Section 32 sets out the conditions under which the police have the authority to enter and search premises after an arrest.

When a person has been arrested for an indictable offence, a police officer has the power to search the premises where the person was arrested or where they were immediately before being arrested.

The rights of a detained person.

Article shared with kind permission of Conor Hunt (Student).

If you are arrested and held at a police station or other premises you have certain statutory rights.


Detained persons are treated in accordance with the Police And Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Codes of Practice . The custody officer must ensure that the detained person is informed of his rights.


The right to legal advice:

A detained person has a right to consult a solicitor in private and free of charge at any time. A duty solicitor scheme is in operation at every police station in England and Wales, so that free telephone advice or a free visit from a solicitor is available. On arrest the custody officer should inform you, in writing or by telling you, that you have a right to free independent legal advice. The police must remind you of your right to see a solicitor during your detention, for example they can inform you before any interview. Some people may feel that when they ask for a solicitor it makes them look guilty, this is not the case, it is your right to have legal advice more so to help you than to make you look like a guilty suspect. The police must let the detainee speak to a solicitor at any time of the day that the detained person requests, and they must continue to try to contact a solicitor if they don’t answer or they cannot get hold of one.

This right can be delayed for up to a maximum of 36 hours if the person has been detained in connection with an indictable offence,has not yet been charged with an offence and a superior officer authorises the delay.  This could be requested if the police believe that the detainee could ask the solicitor to pass on a message or inadvertantly or otherwise alert others to the detainee's predicament. The detainee could be asked to choose another solicitor and in any event he should be allowed to see a solicitor before any court hearing. 



The right to have someone informed:

You can ask the police to contact one person who is interested in your welfare or who is known to you and tell them that you are at the police station. It is free. They will contact someone for you as soon as they can. You have the right to let someone know that you are at a police station, because someone could be looking for you and getting worried and would end up calling the police to report a missing person. It just makes sense to let someone know that you have been arrested so that people know where you are.

This right can be delayed for up to a maximum of 36 hours if the person has been detained in connection with an indictable offence,has not yet been charged with an offence and a superior officer authorises the delay.  This could be requested if the police believe that the detainee could pass on a message or alert others to their predicament. Just because the grounds for delaying notification of arrest may be satisfied it does not automatically mean the grounds for delaying access to legal advice will also be satisfied.


The right to read the Codes of Practice:

The Codes of Practice are rules which will tell you what the police can and cannot do while you are at the police station. The police will let you read the Codes of Practice but you cannot read it for so long that it holds up the police finding out if you have broken the law. If you want to read the Codes of Practice, tell the Police Custody Officer. You have the right to know what you can and cannot do and also know what the police can and cannot do. This is because this could be your first time in custody and you may have no idea what you are entitled to have (e.g. food, water, clean cell and so on). It will also help you know what the police are allowed to do for example how long they can hold you, or your rights, if you are under 18, to have with you a responsible adult aged 18 or over who is not employed by the police.


This also deals with any instances with people being disabled in any way. For example, if they are blind or deaf they should be treated in a way that is appropriate to them and if English is not their first language the custody officer must request the assistance of an interpreter as quickly as possible.


The detainee must be given a written notice setting out the above three rights, how to get legal advice, his right to a copy of the custody record , a note of the caution and a written notice briefly setting out their entitlements while in custody.



Other things you are entitled to while a detainee:


  • Unwell - Tell the police if you feel ill or need medicine. They will call a doctor or nurse or other healthcare professional and it is free. You may be allowed to take your own medicine but the police will have to check first. Detainees should be visited at least every hour whilst in their cells, if they are sleeping and there is no underlying cause for concern they do not have to be woken but if there is some concern due to their state of health they should be checked and roused every half hour and their condition should be assessed and medical help called for if needed.

  • Your cell - reasonable standards of physical comfort. If possible you should be kept in a cell on your own. It should be clean, warm and lit. Your bedding should be clean and in good order. You must be allowed to use a toilet and have a wash. Juveniles should not be placed in police cells unless there is no other secure accommodation suitable or available. They must not be put in a cell with a detained adult.

  • Clothes - If your own clothes are taken from you, then the police must provide you with an alternative form of clothing. Detainees may usually keep clothing and personal effects with them. If the custody officer considers they may use them to harm themselves or others, interfere with evidence, damage property, effect an escape or if they are needed as evidence the custody officer may take away articles they consider necessary but they must tell the detainee why.

  • Food and drink - adequate food and drink must be provided. You must be offered 3 meals a day, at least two light meals and one main meal, with drinks. You can also have drinks between meals.

  • Exercise – exercise when practicable. If possible you should be allowed outside each day for fresh air.

If you are questioned by the police the room used to question you in must be warm and lit and you must be allowed to sit. The officers must tell you their name and rank and you will be offered refreshment and allowed to rest for 8 hours out of 24.

Whilst in detention you may be searched, your fingerprints, photograph or DNA may be taken or you may have to take a breath test and you may be charged with an offence.

You can normally be detained for up to 24 hours without being charged. This time can be extended by a Police Superintendent or a court. After 36 hours only a court can allow the police more time to detain you without being charged.


When you leave the police station, you can ask for a copy of the Custody Record. This is a record of everything that has happened while you have been detained at the police station. The police have to give you a copy as soon as they can.

PACE Code C 2013

Notice of Rights and Entitlements: English (from 27 October 2013)

Detention of children overnight in police cells 'is chronic breach of law'

Arresting with and without a warrant.

Article shared with kind permission of Conor Hunt (Student).

Arresting with a warrant requires the police to apply to a magistrates' court in order to arrest a suspect. The Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 Section 1 sets out how an arrest warrant can be issued and why. When the police are applying to the courts for a warrant they must write the name of the suspect and what the suspect has allegedly done. If the magistrates' issue the police with a warrant the police can arrest the suspect, using reasonable force to enter premises if necessary. When the police use a warrant for someone’s arrest, the name of the offender must be written on the warrant in order for the police to arrest them and if the offender demands to see the warrant the police must show it or they cannot lawfully enter premises or arrest an individual.


Most arrests are made by the police when they are without a warrant. This is mainly due to the fact that the police must act quickly at the scene of a crime and they will not actually know who is about to be arrested before arriving on the scene. Therefore they cannot request a warrant because they could be letting a perpetrator get away. For example, if the police see a person breaking into someone’s property, they cannot ask for a warrant because that would take time and they need to act quickly so that the suspect can’t get away.


The main difference between the two types of arrest is the time. When the police need a warrant, they already know who the suspect is and what they have done so this method takes a longer period of time. There is also no immediate risk to themselves or anyone else because the offence has already been committed. Compare this to arresting without a warrant, which requires the police to act quickly because the suspect is right in front of them doing a criminal act, so they need to arrest the suspect then and there.


When they are arresting a suspect without a warrant it need not be for an indictable offence (serious offence).  The police can arrest someone who they suspect to have committed an offence, or is about to or is in the course of committing an offence.  However it should also be seen as necessary or appropriate just because they can arrest someone should not mean that they do. Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (as substituted by Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 Section 110) provides the statutory power for a constable to arrest without a warrant for all offences. 

In effect a constable may arrest, without a warrant, anyone who is, or whom he has reasonable grounds to suspect to be, about to commit an offence or to be in the act of committing an offence. If a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been committed he can arrest, without a warrant, anyone he has reasonable grounds to suspect of being guilty of that offence. The constable must believe that it is necessary to arrest the person in order to ascertain the name of the person and their address and to prevent the person in question injuring himself or anyone else, damaging property or committing an offence against public decency (when the public can not reasonably avoid the person) or for causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway. It may also be necessary to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question,to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question and to prevent any prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.

This means that arresting without a warrant means the police cannot have a ‘wait and see’ approach, because the perpetrator may be gone or may have caused harm to someone by then so they need to act fast.




PACE Code G 2012

BBC News - Arrest warrants: Police hunt more than 30,000 suspects

Now you can be arrested for any offence - Telegraph



Comparison of the General and Local Elections

Article shared with kind permission of Mateusz Czerwinski (student).

General Elections are a very big event. It affects the country as a whole and is often mentioned in the press, television and radio. Even people who are not involved in Local Elections are likely to be involved in a General Election.

A General Election is a bigger event, because it affects the whole nation. The House of Commons is dissolved until the General Election ends and new Members of Parliament and Prime Minister swear allegiance to the Queen and country.

A General Election is bigger than a Local Election in all aspects. It involves many more people, it covers a much wider area, the campaign spending limit is much bigger and it is followed in much more detail by both local and national media. General Elections are a game of party policies. While Local Elections are based on personal beliefs and electing the candidate who would be most suited to the role, the General Election voting is mainly based on the party’s policies and which candidate represents which party, the electors will vote for the candidates from a certain party.

General Elections have now also started to involve political debates on national television. This helps the people to understand the party’s policies and influences their vote. These debates are displayed on BBC, Sky and ITV and are watched throughout the UK and abroad. One of the benefits of these debates appears to be the way in which they enable the issues to be accessible to large sections of the viewing population. The debates also seem to draw out the differences between the political parties.

Also what makes the General Elections much different is the fact that they attract the attention of British allies from overseas. A good example would be the US President who phones the winner of the elections. This tends to reinforce in peoples minds that there is recognition and acceptance of our democratic processes and the way in which we choose our political leaders.

Local elections on the other hand do not attract that much attention from overseas if any. Local Elections are based on smaller areas, and naturally it is a small, local event. There are a lot of people around who don’t know who their local councillor is, as it is not as covered by the media as much as the General Election. This is not to say that local elections are not important as they obviously are for the communities concerned. If local election result are reported at all in the media it tends to be dealt with in a general way as if it represent a barometer of public opinion about how well they think the government are doing and the country as a whole. Sometimes it seems as though the electorate uses local elections as an opportunity to voice their concerns about the way the country is being run by the government in power at the time.

In Local Elections the public tend to vote for someone who they believe is more suited for the role rather than looking at which party the candidate is in. This makes the election more fair and varied. Less money is spent on Local Election campaigns but whether this results in less people being informed about the event and a lower turnout at the polls is open to debate.

The Local Elections are based on local administrative areas and therefore it doesn’t affect other parts of the country. This gives the local people a sense of identity and belonging and a say in the running and delivery of local services. The government is still highly influential in the delivery of local services as it retains strong links and controls through its overall control of finances and responsibility for levels of taxation and expenditure.

Local Election candidates are often less well known than their counterparts in General elections. There are a few exceptions, Boris Johnson is the Mayor of London and is one elected local official who stands out. This may be partly due to his character. He is not afraid to speak out on a wide range of issues beyond his actual role. London is after all our capital and an important centre for business and international trade. This naturally makes Boris Johnson well known around the country and he appears to be very aware of the need for his voice to be heard when he is speaking for the people of London.

Local councillors do not control the government or Parliament and opinion polls seem to matter less than in General Elections. This may be because in local elections the electorate are looking for something different from national politics when is comes to local matters.

A good example of this may be the recent elections for Police and Crime Commissioners. Even though it was well advertised with national coverage by central government to promote the setting up of the elected officials and their role, only 15% of population took part in the elections. This is because many people didn’t really bother as much or didn’t understand what difference the PCC could make to the way that crime is tackled. However, it also indicates that independent candidates are more likely to be successful in Local Elections than the ones in General Elections. Sue Mountstevens is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset Police and one of a number of successful independent candidates.

It is hoped that the following table may be of help to tutors when explaining to Uniformed Public Service students what might be achieved in terms of their comparison of two elections processes. 

The table compares general elections with local elections. 

The areas mentioned are not held out to be complete or exhaustive and indeed students may be able to add additional areas for comparison.  The points that are made have been deliberately kept brief but hopefully sufficient to get students underway - the intention being that it will be for students to develop the points with more detail and examples where appropriate.  The resource is set out as a table but may be adapted to produce a written report or a presentation as required by individual tutors.

The resource may be particularly helpful when comparing the election processes and responsibilities of two levels of government for a merit in Unit 1: Government, policy and the public services.

General elections - UK Parliament

Local government elections in England - About my vote, produced ...


General Elections



Local Elections


Area - Country as a whole.


Local councillor serves on county, district or parish council.

Responsibilities – a Member of Parliament is elected to represent the public's interests and concerns in the House of Commons. MPs consider and propose new laws, and can raise questions about current issues with government ministers.


Responsibilities – A Councillor is elected to represent the people, and their views, in their area, (ward), and have to work towards a compatible local environment. They serve for four years. In England and Wales there are more than 20,000 elected councillors and they represent 410 local authorities. They hold surgeries where people can come to discuss local issues.

Media coverage – national news. Now includes TV prime ministerial debates.


Coverage is more limited – usually restricted to local newspapers or local television stations.


Politics play a major role – It is usually the party the candidate represents that is voted for rather than the individual.


Politics may be less important – this is debatable as in some cases it is the person that is elected and in other cases it is the party he represents.


Candidates see opportunity for full time position David Cameron – Prime Minister, William Hague – Foreign Secretary, Nick Clegg – Deputy Prime Minister.

Candidates are volunteers - Councillors do not receive a salary , but they can claim allowances and expenses towards the cost of carrying out their duties.


May attract attention from overseas.


Unlikely to attract attention outside our country.


Taken more seriously -campaigns, meetings, TV coverage etc.


Sometimes less well supported.


Seen as more important as outcome affects overall government, population as a whole.


Outcome only affects local area.




Prime minister and senior ministers are MPs.


Local councillors do not form the  government and are not entitled to sit in Parliament.


Elections spending limits – There are expenditure limits at general elections. As constituencies are larger than wards there is a lot more travelling involved to contact as many people in a constituency as possible.


Less resources – so less spent - There are no separate limits on campaign expenditure incurred during local election campaigns. Because wards are smaller than a constituency it is easier for candidates to campaign on a personal basis by knocking on doors.


Opinion Polls seem to matter more


Opinion polls seem to matter less


Examples of services – we have MPs whose roles include – the chancellor, foreign secretary,defence secretary, health secretary,secretary of state for work and pensions and the business secretary with responsibility for "business and banks" .

Examples of local services – locally elected councillors help facilitate the provision of local services and facilities this includes public services, including schools, social services, and public transportation,council housing, gyms and leisure facilities, local planning, recycling and trash collection.


The expense for a candidate hoping to be elected in a General Election can be crippling.

Costs for candidates hoping to be elected in local elections is less prohibitive.


Held every five years unless there is a motion of no confidence or a motion for a general election is agreed by two thirds of the total number of seats in the Commons.

Councillors are elected for a period of four years.




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