Can the Police Search My House Without a Warrant?
Can The Police Search My House Without A Warrant?
It happens in almost every crime drama: a person being investigated for an offence refuses to allow the police entry to their property without a warrant. So is this how it works in real life? Are there any circumstances under which a warrant is not necessary for law enforcers to be allowed access to a property in order to search through its contents? And what happens if the police unlawfully search your home?
What is a Warrant?
A police search warrant is a document that is signed and authorised by either a judge or a magistrate, giving specific officers the permission of UK law to enter a property and search for items of interest connected to crime. The law enforcers requesting a warrant will first need to prove they have sufficient reason to suspect the owner of the property of illegal activities, or that items connected with crime are likely to be found at the address in question, or any other address belonging to the individual being investigated.
Once a warrant has been granted, it is valid for three months. Beyond that time, another must be applied for.
What Happens During a Search?
Police officers searching any address must provide full identification and a copy of the relevant warrant, either when they first enter the property, or at the earliest possible convenient time. They do not need a warrant if the homeowner gives permission to enter without one.
The property owner should also be given a copy of their rights regarding stop and search, which includes details of the procedure for claiming damages or compensation.
When Can the Police Seize Property?
Police officers entering a home as part of a search can take items away as evidence if they have strong enough grounds to believe that those items were gained illegally or used as part of criminal activities by the person currently in possession of them. They are not legally allowed to keep any items for any longer than is necessary to conduct their investigation.
Can Police Conduct a Search Without a Warrant?
There are specific circumstances under which police officers may enter a home without a warrant. These include situations where they wish to:
- Rearrest an individual who has absconded from custody
- Save a life or prevent the destruction of property
- Arrest an individual accused of certain serious offences
- Respond to a serious breach of the peace
- Uncover evidence after an individual has been arrested (they may do this as long as they have reasonable grounds to believe they will find the evidence in question.)
They can also enter a home without a search warrant if they intend to take an individual into custody and have the applicable arrest warrant. However, if you believe the police have searched your home unjustly, you may have cause for actions against the police case.
Can You Film The Police During A Raid?
If you do not get in the way of the officers or do anything to obstruct the search, you are permitted to film what is going on. However, your phone or camera may be seized if the police have reason to believe it contains evidence of criminal activity.
What Happens if the Police Raid the Wrong Address?
If your home has been raided as the result of law enforcers investigating a crime in which you have no involvement whatsoever, you should, first of all, seek legal advice and then approach the constabulary in question for compensation. The PACE code of practice states that “everything possible should be done at the earliest opportunity to allay any sense of grievance” and that the force should normally seriously consider the payment of compensation.
What Happens if the Police Raid A Shared House?
Your landlord cannot give the police permission to enter your place of residence. However, if they arrive with a relevant warrant, or someone who cohabits with you gives them permission, they are well within their rights to enter.
If you have any legal queries about the actions that can be taken by police during a search, simply contact DPP Law today via our online contact form. Our actions against the police lawyers will be happy to assist.