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Police powers to detain
Petraki
post Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 13:43
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Am I right in saying the police don't actually have any powers to detain anyone unless they are arresting them, apart from in a few special instances?

1. You are subject to a stop and search.
2. You are about to or have committed a breach of the peace.
3. A search of your premises is being carried out and you have to be detained to not interfere with the police in carrying out their duty. (This is not clear cut by any means)

Is this correct? If not, could someone point me to the relevant legislation please?

This post has been edited by Petraki: Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 13:57
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post Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 13:43
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Jlc
post Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 14:21
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Perhaps some context?


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Petraki
post Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 14:24
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QUOTE (Jlc @ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 15:21) *
Perhaps some context?


No context. Just something I've been wondering about since you see so many videos of police officers detaining people(outside of the scenarios I mentioned above), yet when the suspects ask if they're being arrested, they are told no. So they are being detained but not arrested. A power the police simply don't have.
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The Rookie
post Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 14:26
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Are you talking the USA or the UK?

Most those videos are in the USA, this is a UK based website.


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Petraki
post Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 14:28
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 15:26) *
Are you talking the USA or the UK?

Most those videos are in the USA, this is a UK based website.


UK
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southpaw82
post Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 14:45
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Without context it is difficult to provide any meaningful answer to your question. However, in general, if the police can’t articulate what power they’re using to detain you simply try and walk away and see what happens - often, not a lot.


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cp8759
post Sat, 12 Oct 2019 - 18:30
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QUOTE (Petraki @ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 - 14:43) *
If not, could someone point me to the relevant legislation please?

There is no legislation that spells out the powers the police don't have. If the police don't have a statutory or common law power, they have no more power to detain anyone that you and me.

The police by an large tend to rely on the fact that if something's been going on and they turn up and say "you're not leaving until we figure this what's been going on", most people will stick around, and the few who immediately leg it are often the ones worth arresting.

As SP suggests, generally if the police are unable to articulate why they are detaining you or what powers they are using, it normally means you've not really been detained at all. Running off is not a good idea (there's an old case where it was held that this might amount to obstruct police), but you're well within your rights to calmly tell an officer that unless he is able to articulate a power to detain or arrest you you propose to leave immediately.

The officer then has three choices:

1) If the grounds and necessity requirements are already made out, he can arrest you. But this is unlikely because in this scenario, why hasn't he arrested you already?
2) He can detain you using an appropriate power, in which case at least you know where you stand and assuming nothing is found during any search, this approach will get him to release sooner than would otherwise have been the case.
3) He can do nothing and allow you to leave.

Generally if the police are trying to use nothing other than their powers of persuasion to get you to stick around, it's because they don't yet have enough information to justify detaining or arresting you.


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Petraki
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 11:05
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QUOTE (cp8759 @ Sat, 12 Oct 2019 - 19:30) *
2) He can detain you using an appropriate power


Outside of a breach of the peace and stop and search, what other powers do they have to detain you?

Let's say you were at the scene of a disturbance or where someone committed a theft and the police arrive and they ask you not to go anywhere because they need to question you as a potential witness. If you don't want to hang around and ask the police officer, "Am I being arrested?" and he says "No", then you are free to go right? He cannot then say but you are being detained until we have spoken to you, as he will have no power to do so.
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I am Weasel
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 11:52
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As a layman, my thoughts would be that a catch-all for the police could be "obstruction" - of course at which point I would have thought they would need to arrest you anyway
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southpaw82
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 12:25
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QUOTE (Petraki @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 12:05) *
QUOTE (cp8759 @ Sat, 12 Oct 2019 - 19:30) *
2) He can detain you using an appropriate power


Outside of a breach of the peace and stop and search, what other powers do they have to detain you?

Let's say you were at the scene of a disturbance or where someone committed a theft and the police arrive and they ask you not to go anywhere because they need to question you as a potential witness. If you don't want to hang around and ask the police officer, "Am I being arrested?" and he says "No", then you are free to go right? He cannot then say but you are being detained until we have spoken to you, as he will have no power to do so.

Pretty much. They have no power to detain a witness.

QUOTE (I am Weasel @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 12:52) *
As a layman, my thoughts would be that a catch-all for the police could be "obstruction" - of course at which point I would have thought they would need to arrest you anyway

If they’re not in the lawful execution of their duty they can’t be obstructed. As a witness is under no obligation to assist it’s difficult to see how non-cooperation would amount to obstruction


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Petraki
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 12:48
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QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:25) *
QUOTE (Petraki @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 12:05) *
QUOTE (cp8759 @ Sat, 12 Oct 2019 - 19:30) *
2) He can detain you using an appropriate power


Outside of a breach of the peace and stop and search, what other powers do they have to detain you?

Let's say you were at the scene of a disturbance or where someone committed a theft and the police arrive and they ask you not to go anywhere because they need to question you as a potential witness. If you don't want to hang around and ask the police officer, "Am I being arrested?" and he says "No", then you are free to go right? He cannot then say but you are being detained until we have spoken to you, as he will have no power to do so.

Pretty much. They have no power to detain a witness.


Thanks for confirming.

QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:25) *
QUOTE (I am Weasel @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 12:52) *
As a layman, my thoughts would be that a catch-all for the police could be "obstruction" - of course at which point I would have thought they would need to arrest you anyway

If they’re not in the lawful execution of their duty they can’t be obstructed. As a witness is under no obligation to assist it’s difficult to see how non-cooperation would amount to obstruction


As far as I understand, obstruction has to be a positive action like interfering with an officer's duty. Not doing anything cannot really be called obstruction can it?
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The Rookie
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 12:54
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I suppose in common parlance you would be 'detained' (not free to leave) if a Police office requests your name and address (when he has a right to require it) until you finished giving them.


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southpaw82
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 12:59
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:54) *
I suppose in common parlance you would be 'detained' (not free to leave) if a Police office requests your name and address (when he has a right to require it) until you finished giving them.

Perhaps. If the power to obtain details has arisen then presumably either it’s an offence not to (so can be arrested if you refuse) or there’s an underlying offence which can lead to arrest if details are refused. In both cases there has to be an offence to trigger a power of arrest though.


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Petraki
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:10
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:54) *
I suppose in common parlance you would be 'detained' (not free to leave) if a Police office requests your name and address (when he has a right to require it) until you finished giving them.


Wouldn't it make more sense to just arrest the person and after obtaining the relevant information de-arrest them there and then? I can imagine someone being detained illegally could bring legal action against the officer/force if not done within their powers.
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The Rookie
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:12
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QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:59) *
In both cases there has to be an offence to trigger a power of arrest though.

Agreed, but then if there is a legal obligation to provide details then surely the act of not giving them (or giving false one) is an offence that (usually at least) then triggers a power of arrest anyway?


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cp8759
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:54
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QUOTE (Petraki @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 14:10) *
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:54) *
I suppose in common parlance you would be 'detained' (not free to leave) if a Police office requests your name and address (when he has a right to require it) until you finished giving them.


Wouldn't it make more sense to just arrest the person and after obtaining the relevant information de-arrest them there and then?

Once you've arrested someone my understanding is that with a few exceptions, you can't really question them until they've been taken to custody, booked in, been given the opportunity to speak to a solicitor and so on. Needless to say, from arrest to interview under caution at the station can easily take several hours.

If you're dealing with the aftermath of a pub brawl with lots of people hanging around, lots of potential suspects and even more potential witnesses, it's not really practical to just nick everybody even if in theory you have the necessary grounds to do so.


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Petraki
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 14:09
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QUOTE (cp8759 @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 14:54) *
Once you've arrested someone my understanding is that with a few exceptions, you can't really question them until they've been taken to custody


That's interesting. Perhaps that's why some officers 'detain' people rather than arrest them as they can let them go there and then.
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ford poplar
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 14:13
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IMO being 'detained on suspicion' or 'for further investigation' does not equate to to 'arrest'.
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cp8759
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 14:24
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QUOTE (ford poplar @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 15:13) *
IMO being 'detained on suspicion' or 'for further investigation' does not equate to to 'arrest'.

But there's no such thing as being detained on suspicion, not in England and Wales anyway. In the US it's known as a Terry Stop, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_stop and there is a clear rationale behind such a policy, but rightly or wrongly such a power simply does not exist over here.

Over here either the police use a statutory or common law power to detain, or you're free to go. If they really suspect you and you indicate you're going to leave, their recourse is to arrest you. Given this gives you the right to a recorded interview at the police station and the right to a solicitor, that's not a bad thing.


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southpaw82
post Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 14:57
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 14:12) *
QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Mon, 14 Oct 2019 - 13:59) *
In both cases there has to be an offence to trigger a power of arrest though.

Agreed, but then if there is a legal obligation to provide details then surely the act of not giving them (or giving false one) is an offence that (usually at least) then triggers a power of arrest anyway?

That’s what I said.


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