Police Powers

The area of law that deals with a police officer’s power to conduct searches can be quite complicated at times.

Police may hold what is known as a “General Search Warrant”, which as the name suggests can be used for general purposes. Police also may obtain a warrant for a specific purpose under a number of different statutes.

What is important is that police exercise their powers properly and for a legitimate purpose.

If police conduct an unlawful search, anything the police find as evidence may potentially be excluded at trial. However, this is not automatic. As is said above the area of law can be complex at times and there is generally a need for the court to hear legal argument and often evidence before deciding to exclude evidence.

Can Police Search My House?

Any Police officer with a ‘general search warrant’ is entitled to break into any premises on the basis the officer suspects:

  • an offence has recently been committed or is about to be committed;
  • there are stolen goods in the premises;
  • there is anything that may afford evidence of an offence being committed; and/or
  • there is anything that may be intended to be used in committing an offence.

Generally, if there are multiple police officers only one of the police officers needs to be a holder of a general search warrant.

Police can obtain warrants to conduct specific searches under a variety of pieces of legislation.

Can Police Search My Car?

Any police officer has the power to stop and search any vehicle if that police officer reasonably suspects:

  • there are stolen goods;
  • there is an object which constitutes an offence; and/or
  • there is evidence of the commission of an indictable offence.

Can Police Seize My Property?

The officer with a ‘general search warrant’ has the power to seize any goods as apart of their search. He may engage any other police officer’s help to undertake his task.

Often cases can be won or lost based on evidence found as a result of police searches, and a court’s ruling about its admissibility. That is why it is important you have someone, like one of the members of the Lipson Chambers team representing you. We can ensure your rights are protected and justice is achieved.