Last time we talked about police powers to search premises – because we had just been to a crime scene and believed there may be evidence of an offence inside certain premises. Well, as we’re talking about grounds to enter premises, I thought I may as well cover the other powers officers have to enter premises. That way, you’re covered for all scenarios.
There are only a couple of other reasons left for you to be able to enter a person’s home/business premises/outbuilding etc and I’ll tell you what those are now.
- As I said in the last post, you can enter if you have a warrant. That also gives you grounds to force entry if someone is trying to stop you or if no one is there to allow entry. (You do need to decide if forcing entry is the best course of action for you, though, if no one is there. It definitely is if someone is trying to stop you as they could be getting rid of evidence so swift action is needed.)
- You have power of entry to make an arrest for an arrestable offence (Or if someone is unlawfully at large). – So, if you attend the address and knock, no one answers, but you see your offender through the upstairs window, you can go in and get him. You have to know it’s him/her though, you can’t just turn up and go in because it’s their house. – Also, if you are giving chase on the street and your offender runs through a stranger’s house, in through the front door and out through the back, you can technically follow them through… (This tends to be done in rabbit warren type estates and where everyone knows each other in some form or another.)
- Section 4 of the Public Order Act (Fear or provocation of violence – I’m not sure if this would come up much in writing, but it could do in a domestic crime maybe?)
- To save life and limb and serious damage to property – you do have to make sure you genuinely thought the person inside was in trouble.
These powers fall under Section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. There are other powers within this Act if you want to use Google. I’ve simply selected ones that would probably be most useful within a crime novel.
Don’t forget, you can find the rest of the series Here and if you have any questions you want answering in a blog post, leave it in the comments.
Any surprises here for you?
Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective who now writes the DI Hannah Robbins crime novels set in Nottingham, UK.