Festival security search powers. With the festival season about to start this a probably a timely reminder of the search powers that festival security staff have at music festivals.
Festival security are not police officers. Festival security do not have the power to search you or your property. Festival security have no power to search your car or your tent. Festival security do not have the power to use force to search you. You are not required to give your name and address to festival security. The only power that festival security have over and above any citizen powers is that of refusing you entry to the festival, or asking you to leave.
Festival security will argue that it is a condition of entry that you consent to be searched. What that means is that if you do not consent to be searched then the consequence is that you may be refused entry to the festival by festival security.
You can withdraw your consent to be searched at any time before or during the search. This is your legal right.
Some festival security staff now use passive drugs dogs to sniff you. If a festival security dog indicates that you may have drugs you can still refuse to be searched by festival security.
If a member of festival security uses force in order to search you without your consent , then this unlawful and is an assault. If this happens then you should report the matter to the police. This can be done at any time.
The festival security powers to use force to search are the same whether inside or outside the festival – none.
If you are arrested by police following an unlawful search by festival security then you should make your solicitor aware, as this is potentially a defence if the evidence was obtained unlawfully.
Festival security have also been known to cut off wristbands that have been lawfully purchased by the customer. If festival security use force to do this, say for instance your hands are in your pockets or in the air, then this is also an assault.
If you are assaulted this year at a festival by festival security be sure to ask the person who assaults you for his name. Report the matter as soon as possible to the police. It would help the police to identify him if his photograph was taken also.
Festival security do have the same powers as every other citizen. These are, where an indictable (can be heard at crown court) offence has been committed; they can arrest someone if…
• The person is causing physical injury to himself or others
• The person is suffering physical injury
• The person is causing loss of or damage to property
• The person is absconding before a constable can assume responsibility for him
These powers only exist where an indictable offence HAS been committed. There is no mention of searching.
The police do have powers to use force when searching, and can require the removal of clothing.
The police to not have a power to cut off wristbands on behalf of the festival organiser. This has been successfully challenged in the past. Unless the police want to seize the wristband as evidence of an offence then they have no power to use force to take it. Police officers work for the Crown not festival organisers.
Reasonable Suspicion – Search by Police Officer.
In order to search a person or vehicle for stolen property offensive weapon, prohibited articles, or controlled drugs, a Police Officer must have reasonable suspicion that you possess them.
Reasonable suspicion does not require certainty that an unlawful item is being carried. Reasonable suspicion does not mean that the police officer has to be satisfied of this beyond reasonable doubt. Reasonable suspicion must be founded on a fact related to that individual and would later stand up to scrutiny. A police officer’s hunch or instinct is not reasonable suspicion.
The police officer must have formed a genuine suspicion in his own mind that he will find the object that he is allowed to search for. The suspicion that the object will be found must reasonable. This means that there must be an objective basis for that suspicion. This means that a reasonable person would be entitled to reach the same conclusion based on the same facts.
External factors may enhance the reasonable suspicion, such as the time of day or night, and the location of the person.
Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on a person’s ethnicity, or membership of a particular group.
The reasonable suspicion is the police officer’s state of mind, not the subject’s. Challenging the police officer’s state of mind is unlikely to change it, unless supported by some fact or another. For instance, if a police officer suspects that you are carrying a weapon by the shape of the carrier bag that you are holding, and wishes to exercise his power of search under section 1 of PACE, an explanation from you may change his mind. If for instance you are walking home from cricket practice, sight of the cricket bat in your bag may sufficiently challenge his state of mind to make the search unnecessary or even unlawful.
The suspicion may not exist before the start of the encounter. A police officer may speak with the subject and become suspicious during the encounter. For instance the subject may be nervous and apparently lie about the reasons for his presence. The person may simply display signs of intoxication caused by drugs. However there is no power for a police officer to stop and detain to discover suspicion.
You do not have to give your name and address when searched by a police officer. However if you are carrying something illegal then a police officer does have a power to demand your name and address and if you don’t provide it you may be arrested.
If all conditions are met, i.e. the reasonable suspicion is lawful and the police officer provides the correct information, (his name, station, grounds and object of search) then you may be searched and detained for that purpose. The police officer may use force. Obstructing or otherwise not permitting a lawful search could amount to “obstructing a police officer” for which you may be arrested.
Theft Burglary Robbery Explained.
Theft is when you dishonestly take possession of something belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.
Key words here are “dishonestly” and “permanently”
Temporary deprivation is borrowing and borrowing is not theft. However if you treat something as your own, such as using a “borrowed” bus pass, then the court may conclude that you stole it.
Forgetting to pay is not theft, it is not dishonest.
Promising to pay afterwards does not undo the act of theft, and many a surprised shoplifter has been led away in handcuffs after making such promise to the store manager.
Finding is theft if you keep the item without taking reasonable steps to find the owner.
Keeping something you were given in error is also theft, so when the bank accidently adds a nought or two to a credit and you gleefully go on a spending spree then you’ll end up in court I’m afraid.
Q. I accidently left the toilet rolls on the back of the trolley at the supermarket when I went through the checkout. Is this theft?
A. No. An accident is not theft.
Q. I didn’t return the library book on time. Can I sell it?
A. Overdue hire is not theft. However the book is not yours so if you sell it you are assuming the rights of the owner so this may be theft.
Burglary is theft from a building, a building that the thief entered as a trespasser. It is not necessary for the thief to actually steal in order to be guilty; entering with intent to steal will suffice.
Nor does there have to be a forced entry, wandering in through an open door will be sufficient to be charged with burglary providing the intent is to steal.
Other intentions, such as find a lost cat or find a bed for the night mean that burglary has not been committed.
The police will seek to establish your intentions by interview, but not only the interview. There are other factors that may indicate your intentions to steal, such as carrying an empty holdall, wearing a balaclava or stacking up valuable items against the front door.
It is not necessary for the whole body to enter for the offence to be complete. A person who smashed a hole in a jeweller’s window and reaches in for a watch is equally guilty as the person who climbed in through the skylight.
A part of a building also counts if that part is entered as a trespasser. Therefore a shopper lawfully in a supermarket who enters the staff area to steal a staff hand bag is also guilty of burglary.
Robbery is theft from a person when force is used or threatened. Mugging is robbery. Holding a bank up with a fake or real gun is robbery because force is threatened.
Pick pocketing where no force is used or threatened. This is theft and is not robbery.
Making off without payment
Also called “Bilking”. This is where you run off without paying for something. Usually committed by a customer who decides to not pay for the meal he has just eaten and slips out of the door when the waiter is not looking. Usually committed by drunken young men at curry houses in the early hours.
Refusing to pay for a meal that you are not happy with is not “making off” and is a civil dispute; providing that you make it clear why you are not paying and provide your name and address to the restaurant. This would be unlikely to work if you and your party ate all three causes and polished off the wine!
This was introduced to plug the legal loophole. How can you steal something you can’t see or give back. This is used by the police when people bypass the electricity meter, particularly at cannabis plantations; when it is necessary to bypass the electricity meter otherwise the cultivation is not only less cost effective, but such a huge increase in power consumption can alert the authorities.
How long can the police hold you if arrested? If arrested the police can hold you for 36 hours without charge. The 36 hours starts from the time that you arrive at the police station. The detention is reviewed at intervals of 6 hours, 9 hours and 9 hours by an Inspector (up to 24 hours), then at 24 hours a Superintendent can extend the custody time for up to a further 12 hours. This extension used to be for serious arrestable offences only, but it is now possible for any indictable offence, which includes such things as ABH, shoplifting, joy riding (aggravated) and possession of drugs. The Inspectors and Superintendents that review and extend the detention have to be satisfied that the investigation is being conducted diligently and expeditiously and that the detention is necessary. This means that the investigating officers have to demonstrate that they are making enquiries such as taking statements or viewing cctv, as well as interviewing the suspect. If the police want to hold you for more than 36 hours then they have to apply to a magistrates court for extensions. Extensions are granted in blocks of up to 36 hours at a time, up to a maximum of 96 hours from the time that the suspect first arrived at the police station when arrested. So with these warrants of extended detention the police can hold you for a total of 96 hours. The police (not the CPS) make the application to the magistrates for an extension, and although magistrates usually grant the first application, they may not grant as many hours as the police want. This means the police may have to make a second or third application to the magistrates to hold you for the full 96 hours. If the suspect attends a hospital for treatment then the custody clock is suspended for the time he is away from the police station. This suspension of the custody clock does not happen if the person receives medical treatment at the police station. When charged with an offence this custody clock stops. Charged means told that you will be prosecuted and given a court date. When charged the police have to either bail you with or without conditions, of keep you at the police station for the next court. None of these times apply to terrorist/terrorism offences.
Joy riding TWC TWOC TDA. Taking without consent, taking and driving away, taking a conveyance, stealing a car, nicking a car, or as the press likes to call it, Joy riding. For the purpose of this blog, sections 12 and 12A of the theft Act shall be known as joy riding.
All names for taking someone’s car, or boat, or motorcycle for your own or another’s use. Joy riding is not theft if there is no intention to deprive the owner of it permanently, so TWC or joy riding as it is known, was introduced to fill this loophole in the law. For the joy riding offence to be complete, the joy riding has to be for your own or another’s use. Simply moving a car that is causing an obstruction is not joy riding. Untying boats and letting them drift from the mooring is not joy riding, but taking one for a row is. Taking a car for a test drive and keeping it longer than permitted is not joy riding, because it was taken with permission (it could be theft of petrol however). Conveyance means any conveyance constructed or adapted for the carriage of a person or persons whether by land, water or air (planes!) It does not include a conveyance constructed or adapted for use only under the control of a person not carried in or on it. So wheeling away a handcart, wheelbarrow or shopping trolley is not joy riding even if your mate is in it!. There is a separate offence of taking a pedal cycle.
There is an aggravated offence called aggravated vehicle taking. Aggravated means made worse. If a mechanically propelled vehicle is taken without consent and it is proved that, at any time after the vehicle was unlawfully taken (whether by him or another) and before it was recovered, the vehicle was driven dangerously, an accident occurred which caused injury, damage to other property or the stolen vehicle, then the aggravated offence is complete. Aggravated vehicle taking elevates the maximum sentence from 6 months imprisonment to 2 years. So the advice is don’t take someone else’s car and go joy riding, but if you do don’t crash it. If you kill someone it is 14 years! There is also an offence of knowing that any conveyance has been taken without such authority, drives it or allows himself to be carried in or on it. This covers passengers in cars that go joy riding.
The law on drugs – police powers to search. Police can stop and search a person or vehicle for controlled drugs. The law on drugs says that if an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is in possession of controlled drugs then they may be subjected to a search. This is covered in Section 23 Misuse of Drugs Act and is referred to as a “section 23 search”.
The law on drugs says that this can be anywhere, not just in a public place, providing that the police are there lawfully. Lawfully means with permission or exercising some lawful power such as with a search warrant. The person’s demeanour may supply the officer with the requisite suspicion. If for instance, displaying signs of drug intoxication such as dilated pupils or bizarre and irrational behaviour. The law on drugs allows the Police to apply for a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act when they suspect that controlled drugs are present on any premises. The search warrant allows them to enter premises which include people’s houses to search for drugs. It is usual for the police to force an entry to the premises when executing drugs search warrants, often causing damage. This is so the persons on the premises don’t have time to dispose of the drugs down the toilets or elsewhere. Police will then search and will seize anything that is drug related. They call this drugs paraphernalia and includes such things as scales, deal lists, phones and money. Police will also note or even seize expensive items such as televisions and computers to demonstrate that the occupant is living above their means. This is evidence of drug supply and can also be used for a “Proceeds of Crime Act” application (POCA).
The law on drugs allows anyone in the premises to be searched by police, including people arriving at the address. Police to not have to compensate or repair damage they cause even when no drugs are found. People arrested for drugs offences will be interviewed by the police. Police will try to establish through questioning if any drugs seized are for personal use or supply. It is usually for people arrested for drug offences to be police bailed following interview, with a duty to return to the police station at a later time. This allows the police time to test the drugs, examine phones, and make financial enquiries before making charging decisions. Expert police witnesses will provide valuations for drugs seized.
Police Use of Force – police brutality – reasonable force. The police have powers to arrest, enter, search, prevent offences being committed, and prevent escape. There would be little point in the having these powers if the application of such police powers were dependent upon the consent of the subject. Let’s face it, would the drug dealer consent to a search if he were carrying drugs? Would the aggressive drunk persons arrest be practical if there were no police powers to place him in the back of the van and drive him to the police station?
For this reason the police are provided with a power to use physical reasonable force. The law does not stipulate the level of force, it says:
All uses of force by the police require that the use of force should be ‘reasonable’ in the circumstances. What is reasonable varies depending on circumstance, and legal advice can be sought on what reasonable force actually means.
Excessive use of force is unlawful. This often referred to in the media as police brutality. The police are liable for prosecution if the force used is excessive, unreasonable or unnecessary. No two sets of circumstances are the same and expert legal advice should be sought if you believe excessive force has been used.
The level of force used by police can range from taking someone’s arm to shooting them dead, depending on the circumstances.
Arrested persons often feel aggrieved when they wake up in the cells in the morning, not only with a hangover but with handcuff burns to their wrists, and grazed knees from the floor of the police van. This is often a natural consequence of a difficult arrest of a non-compliant person and does not necessarily constitute unlawful or excessive use of force by the police, or police brutality. Nor does it negate what the arrested person actually did to get arrested in the first place! Police are now equipped with such things as Tasers, CS gas, and leg restraints all of which are designed to cause less injury to the suspect as opposed to the crushing blow of a wooden truncheon – in living memory of the author. If you believe that the police have used excessive force or wish to make allegations of police brutality then you should seek expert legal advice.
Breach of the Peace -This is used less and less these days. In the days before specific legislation giving the police powers of entry, search and arrest that they have now, this was a fall back power when nothing else existed. A breach of the peace occurs when an act or threat may cause harm to a person or in his presence his property, or actions which are likely to provoke such harm. A breach of the peace may occur on either public or private property. There exists with it police powers of arrest and entry to make that arrest of a person committing a breach of the peace. There is also police powers of arrest of someone who the police have reasonable cause to believe is about to commit a breach of the peace. An arrest for an anticipated breach of the peace will only be lawful if the threat of the breach is imminent. There are no police powers of arrest once the breach has finished, so any arrest occurring after the breach of the peace will be unlawful. The arrested person should be released as soon as the likelihood of such breach of the peace has passed (unless arrested for an offence). Breach of the peace police powers of entry and arrest can be used when for instance a police officer hears a domestic argument from the street, and he fears for the safety of those within the building. As with other police powers of entry, providing the entry is lawful, then the police are not liable for damage they cause. All citizens, not just the police, are able to make an arrest to stop or prevent a breach of the peace. However, extreme caution should be taken before making such an arrest, because if the arrest is not lawful the individual making the arrest could be liable for false imprisonment. A breach of the peace is not an offence, however if a complaint of a breach of the peace is made to the court then the Justices of the Peace Act 1361 gives courts the power to bind over offenders to keep the peace.
Interview Under Caution – Changes. As of 2 February 2016 certain safeguards have been removed and it will now not be necessary for the police to audio record an interview under caution with suspects for minor offences when not interviewed at the police station. Code E of PACE has previously stipulated that an interview under caution of a suspect detained in relation to indictable offences must be audio recorded. Since October 2013 this principle applies to interviews which take place at a location other than a police station. This includes includes a voluntary interview under caution when not under arrest.
However now, if a person is not arrested and is interviewed elsewhere, such as in a shop, a nightclub or even the street, no audio recording is required if the offence suspected is on the list.
• Possession of cannabis (personal use)
• Possession of khat (personal use)
• Shoplifting (Under £100)
• Criminal damage (Under £300)
• Appears to be aged 18 or over;
• Does not require and appropriate adult;
• Appears to be able to appreciate the significance of questions and their answers;
• Does not appear to be unable to understand what is happening because of the effects of alcohol, drugs or illness;
• Does not require an interpreter.
It will also be necessary to establish that the alleged offence did not result in injury to any person, did not involve any realistic threat of injury to any person and did not cause any substantial financial or material loss to the private property of any individual.
These changes are intended to facilitate the out of court disposal of four of the most common types of indictable offences allowing the police to allocate resources to tackling more serious crime. However, the audio recording of an interview under caution was introduced in the first place as a safeguard. There is now there is a risk that this note taking process may not capture important comments made by the suspect. Comments which may potentially prejudice a suspect’s defence should the matter proceed to court. There is also significant pressure on the police officer to make the correct judgement call. The judgement call in respect of the suspect’s age, understanding of English, welfare and necessity for an appropriate adult is normally reserved for a more senior and specially trained custody officer when a suspect is taken to the police station. An incorrect assessment by an officer could lead to unjust outcomes. For example someone could end up accepting a caution for an indictable offence without fully understanding the potential implications.
A suspect will still be entitled to legal advice and will be informed of this at the time of the interview. However, is it practical for a duty solicitor to attend a supermarket for a shoplifter, or a night club for a simple drugs possession? Is this likely to lead to the suspect declining this right when faced with the alternative of being taken to the police station?
Search warrant – police powers. The most well-known method whereby police can enter and search premises is with a search warrant. A search warrant is a legal document that gives the police powers to enter and search premises for items of property. A search warrant is issued by a Magistrate following an application by the police made on oath. The police tell the Magistrate what they are looking for and why they think that the items are there, and if the magistrate thinks it appropriate then a search warrant is issued. The occupant of the premises is entitled to a copy of the search warrant, but not the reason why it was issued. A search warrant can be issued under all sorts of enactments. For instance a Theft Act search warrant would allow entry and search for stolen property, or an Obscene Publications Act search warrant for indecent material etc. However due to a change in the law in 2005 a search warrant is usually applied for and issued under S.8 PACE. This is because S8 is more far reaching being non-specific stating that the items sought need only to be likely to be of substantial value (whether by itself or together with other material) to the investigation of the offence. A search warrant is usually valid for up to three months and allows multiple entries. This means that the police can come back next week and search your house again without getting a new search warrant, although they are not supposed to use this as an excuse for fishing expeditions. There are police powers to seize anything that they believe is evidence of an offence, even if it is not mentioned on the search warrant. Police can force their way in and they do not have to pay for the damage even if they don’t find or seize anything. The occupant does not have to be there, the police are allowed to search if no one is at home, and sometimes they prefer it, as there is no one to get in the way. If the police search an unoccupied property then they have to leave a copy of the search warrant. Police also have to make a list of what they take, but this is not always provided at the time and may be left until a later interview under caution with anyone who is arrested. If the occupant is there, then the police do not have to wait for the person to obtain legal advice before they execute the search warrant and start searching.