What are police raids?
Police raids are a search conducted on a property suspected of involvement in criminal activity.
The police can enter your property if:
- They have a search warrant for the premises,
- They have an arrest warrant for you or someone they believe to be inside the property.
The most common powers used for search warrants are under:
- The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE),
- The Theft Act 1968,
- The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971,
- The Terrorism Act 2000.
However, the police do not always require a warrant to search your property. Some examples of when the police can enter without a warrant include if:
- You gave permission,
- An officer is in close pursuit of someone believed to have committed, or attempted to commit a serious crime,
- They hear cries for help or of distress,
- They need to arrest you or if you are already under arrest,
- Immediate entry is required to prevent a breach of peace.
What happens during a raid?
If the police have a search warrant, they are required to:
- Carry out the search within 3 calendar months from the date of issue,
- Carry out the search at a reasonable hour, unless this would hinder the purpose of the search,
- Provide their ID and a copy of the warrant when they enter the property, or at the earliest possible convenience,
- Ask permission to enter if you are present, unless this would hinder the search,
- Explain why they are conducting a search,
- Only enter your property once, unless the warrant explicitly states multiple entries are permitted,
- Provide you with a copy of your rights regarding stop and search.
Unless the warrant states otherwise, the warrant itself does not enable police officers to search you or anyone else at the property. However, the police do have powers to search you under Section 1 of PACE. If they do, you should always ask them what their justification is.
Can I film the police during the raid?
You are entitled to record the police if they are conducting a search of your property, as long as you do not obstruct their search.
The police are not permitted to seize your camera unless they have grounds to believe it contains evidence of criminal activity.
Do I have to speak to the police during the raid?
You are under no duty to answer any questions the police put to you during their search. If they arrest you, you are still not required to answer any questions and should not do so without seeking legal advice beforehand.
What if the police have raided the wrong address?
If your property is mistakenly searched, PACE Codes of Practice note that “everything possible should be done at the earliest opportunity to allay any sense of grievance” and there should “normally be a strong presumption in favour of paying compensation”.
At Saunders we understand that a police raid can be an alarming and unsettling experience. If you believe the police have unjustly entered your property or have not followed procedures correctly, our expert Police Actions and Human Rights team can advise you on the potential recourse options available.