Unlawful Searches and Trespass | Actions against the Police

The police do have powers to stop and search but only in certain conditions. An officer must have reasonable suspicion that the person they are stopping is carrying a stolen or prohibited item. Police officers are under an obligation to provide certain information to the person being searched. This includes the officer’s name, their shoulder number or the station they are based at, the law the search is based on, the reason for the search, what they are looking for and why they have chosen to search you. They should not ask you to remove more than the outer layers of clothing in view of the public and cannot usually ask you to provide your name or address.

If these requirements are not complied with, the search is likely to be unlawful. Further the search may lead to force being used if you decide not to cooperate or handcuffs being used. It can sometimes lead to you being arrested for an offence such as obstructing a constable.  If so, you may also be able to claim for additional causes of action such as assault and false imprisonment.

Generally, the police can enter your home if you have given them permission to enter, they have a warrant or Court Order to enter, they reasonably believe that an arrestable offence is being committed or may be committed or for the preservation of life.  However, if the police enter your home without lawful excuse, then you may have a claim for trespass.  You may also claim for any damage caused by the police to the property or its contents arising from the trespass. Trespass is actionable without proof of damage or loss.

Examples of Claims:

  • A police officer enters your property without permission and without legal authority
  • You ask the police officer to leave your property and he refuses to do so and has no lawful authority to remain.

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