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Patrick, Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Cambridge University, Chartered Arbitrator, Barrister and Attorney
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can the police enter my property without my permission and

Resolved Question:

can the police enter my property without my permission and search for someone ?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Patrick replied 8 years ago.
Dear Craig,

Yes, if the police have "reasonable or just cause" to believe that you are harbouring a fugitive or that they protecting the peace they can enter with out your permission. Otherwise they need a warrant from the courts to enter without your permission. A full explanation is below,

Searches of Premises
Search with a warrant (section 8 Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1984)
Before the police can search your home or workplace for
people or articles linked to an offence they must get a
warrant. The offence must also be a serious or ‘indictable’
offence (ie an offence triable either way or triable only in
the Crown Court).
A magistrate can authorise entry and search of your home
or workplace where there are reasonable grounds that an
‘indictable’ offence has been committed, that there is
material on the premises of substantial value to the
investigation and that is likely to be relevant evidence and
that it’s not practicable to gain entry any other way.
The police must specify in the application which premises
are to be searched and what articles/persons are being
searched for. Reasonable force can be used to exercise the
warrant eg kicking down your door. Any items found can
be seized. They can only search for items specified in the
warrant, but if they find anything else during the search
which might be evidence of an offence then they can seize
it under their general powers of seizure (section 19 PACE).
See ALP briefing 3 for more on indictable offences.
b. Search without a warrant (section 18 Police and
Criminal Evidence Act, 1984)
Once you have been arrested for an indictable offence the
police no longer need a warrant to search your home or
The police can enter premises which are occupied or under
your control eg your home or workplace whilst you are
under arrest for an 'indictable’ offence and they reasonably
suspect that there is evidence on the premises relating to
the offence for which you are under arrest or similar
offences. The police may only search the parts of the
premises under your control so can't search your
housemates rooms but can search the common parts,eg:
garden, kitchen, bathroom, attic.
3. Seizure of Property (section 19 Police and Criminal
Evidence Act, 1984)
A police officer lawfully on premises (which means any
place including vehicles, tents, caravans) can seize any item
which they reasonably suspect is evidence of any offence
or has been obtained as a consequence of an offence. So
they can seize items on actions eg: video or stills cameras,
even though you haven't been arrested, if they reasonably
suspect they contain evidence of an offence.
If they are searching your house and are looking for
specific items they can under this section seize anything
else if it is evidence of an offence. So that bit of dope
down the back of the sofa, when they are looking for
evidence of your last action, can be seized. Don't invite
them in (as they would then lawfully be on the premises),
make them get a warrant, unless they are searching under
section 18 above.
4. Retention of Property (section 22 Police and Criminal
Evidence Act, 1984)
The police have the power to retain your property 'for as
long as is necessary in the circumstances'. You should be
able to get it back as soon as they have dropped the case
or decided it isn't needed as evidence, but there's plenty of
room for abuse there. If you are acquitted you can get
all your property back.

All so

Powers of entry

When can the police enter and search

Police can enter premises without a warrant in a number of different situations. Examples include:-

deal with a breach of the peace or prevent it
enforce an arrest warrant
arrest a person in connection with certain offences
recapture someone who has escaped from custody
save life or prevent serious damage to property.


Searching premises

Although the police do not always need a search warrant, they must always have a reason for the search. A warrant authorises entry on one occasion only and the police can use force if necessary. Some key points are:
You have a right to see both the warrant card and the Notice of Rights and Powers, which sets out the rights of the police and the occupier
The police can enter and search without a warrant under acts such as the Misuse of Drugs Act, and if they need to serve a warrant, arrest or recapture someone or save life or limb
The police cannot seize certain materials such as personal records, human tissue samples, journalistic material and "legally privileged" material without a special judgement
Police can enter and search premises after an arrest but their search cannot go beyond what is reasonable in order to find relevant evidence
The Liberty website has more detail on police powers to search premise

and finally from Your Rights if you live in the Uk

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) provides the police with clear authority to enter and search premises after an arrest. If you have been arrested for an arrestable offence, the police may search premises occupied or controlled by you for evidence of that offence or of some other arrestable offence connected with or similar to that offence. The police officer conducting this search should normally have with him or her written authorisation on the Notice of Powers and Rights for the search by an officer of at least the rank of inspector.

If you have been arrested for any offence - not just an arrestable offence, the police may enter and search any premises you were in at the time of the arrest or immediately before it for evidence of the offence for which you were arrested. Again, in both cases the police are only permitted to search to the extent reasonably required to find the evidence sought and if the search is excessive you may have the remedy of a police complaint or a civil action against the police.

I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any further questions, or click accept and leave feedback.

Best Wishes,
Patrick and other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you