What are police officers not allowed to do?
If you have been involved in an act of police brutality or have been unreasonably treated by an officer, then you have every right to consult a solicitor to find out what your options are. It is worth understanding exactly what police officers are not allowed to do, so you can identify whether or not the treatment you received from an officer was illegal or not.
Unfortunately, police brutality is becoming far more prevalent and a lot of cases actually go unnoticed under the pretence that individuals simply don’t know when their rights have been breached.
Though here at DPP Law we heavily hope you’re never the product of a police brutality case, we do think it is important that you know your rights surrounding what the police can and can’t do, just in case. Here’s a small guide on some common acts police may perpetrate.
1. Search your house without a warrant
Though it’s common knowledge by many, some are left in the dark when it comes to their rights around the police searching their properties.
The law states that generally, the police need a warrant to search your house without prior warning. These warrants are obtained from Magistrates and can be issued under a wide variety of cases including misuse of drugs or possession of firearms. Warrants can also be issued for a range of indictable offences as long as they have a ‘just’ reason to search, such as the possibility that there is supporting evidence within a property.
Though police typically need a warrant, you ought to be aware that there are exceptional circumstances in which they can enter both peacefully, and with force. These reasons are typically:
- If you are under arrest, or already arrested
- To stop a crime that is underway
- With your consent to enter the property
What the police can do: search your house with a warrant, or under one of the extenuating circumstances listed above
What the police can’t do: search your house without a warrant or a just cause
2. Wrongful Arrest
Wrongful and false arrests and imprisonments are a heated topic of discussion in the modern day, more so in America but also all too prominently in the UK too. Wrongful arrests and even imprisonments can happen when there is a miscalculation of evidence, a false claim or weak alibi.
UK law says a police officer can only arrest a person if they are wanted on a warrant or if they have “reasonable belief” that they are guilty of a crime. If you believe you have been arrested or imprisoned outside of these circumstances then you may very well have a claim.
It is also worth knowing your rights when you are arrested, as a breach of them can either strengthen a claim, or formulate a new one altogether.
- Be treated humanely
- Be treated with respect
- See the written codes governing rights and how you are treated
- Speak to a custody officer
- Have someone notified of the arrest (this doesn’t always warrant a phone call, though)
- Seek legal advice and consult with a solicitor in private.
What the police can do: arrest you with a ‘just’ cause or with a reasonable belief that you are guilty
What the police can’t do: arrest you without a prior reason, deny you of your rights or keep you in custody for over 24 hours (unless in extreme circumstances in which this is extended to 36 hours)
You can read more about your rights when arrested here.
Another common claim is police assault and battery, yet many people are reluctant to report these crimes in fear of not being taken seriously.
The act of assault or battery by a police officer is just as much a crime as it would be with any individual. A person is assaulted as soon as they are touched without consent or are put in a state of fear as a direct result of the actions of an individual.
A police officer could be liable for assault if they go above the level of force deemed ‘just’, this includes punching, kicking, carrying out illegal body searches or deploying an unnecessarily aggressive manner. Police may also be liable for battery if they are physically violent, use an ADP baton, CS gas or a taser without lawful consent.
What the police can do: use a level of force which is deemed ‘necessary’ this is typically just a forceful restraint if you are struggling
What the police can’t do: use more force than necessary or use a baton, gas or taser unlawfully
Though the police are allowed to use a certain amount of force, if you are under arrest, for example, it is pretty clear when they have overstepped the mark and if you believe you have fallen victim to this crime it is crucial that you come forward and get in contact with us as you may be entitled to compensation (at the very least).
There are numerous other crimes committed by the police, including:
- Human rights breaches
- Malicious prosecution
- Misfeasance in public office
- Data protection breaches
- Unlawful searches
- Protest abuse