4. The police are in your home
If the police have a warrant, can the police search people too?
Unless it is mentioned specifically in the warrant, warrants do not allow police officers to search people in your property, only the property itself. However, the police may be able to search you using other powers, particularly if you are under arrest.
You should always ask the police to justify why a search is required.
Can the police raid a shared house?
If you live in rented accommodation, the police should not search the premises solely on the basis of your landlord’s consent. However, they can get consent from someone else who can allow them to enter, such as a housemate or family member.
If the police have come to arrest you or are conducting a search after your arrest, they do not require consent but are only permitted to search areas that are reasonably required to find any evidence. This generally means a person’s room but may include shared or communal spaces.
Can I film the police while they raid my home?
You are allowed to film the police while they search your home, as long as you don’t obstruct them.
Even if they threaten to take your camera (seize it), the police are not allowed to do so unless they believe it contains evidence of an offence.
Do I have to answer questions while my home is raided by police?
If you are arrested and cautioned during a police raid, you don’t have to answer questions and should not do so without first seeking legal advice.
If you are not arrested, the police may only in theory ask questions that are necessary to carry out a search, such as to find a key to open a locked drawer or cupboard, or to decide if a particular item should be seized.
You don’t have to answer the questions, but this may lead the police to cause greater damage to your property during the search.
In reality, the police often ask you questions, even if you are not under arrest and have not been cautioned. You do not need to respond to these questions and should always refuse to do so.
Can the police seize my things or cash?
Police have wide powers to seize property if they have reasonable grounds for believing that:
- The items have been obtained illegally, or
- They are evidence in relation to an crime
In either of these cases, the police should also have reason to believe that they need to seize the items to prevent them being lost, stolen or destroyed.
The police can seize property and retain it for examination elsewhere. This is often the reason for seizing computer equipment.
The police can seize money in certain cases, for example, as evidence of a potential offence or if there is reason to believe it was obtained illegally.
However, the police can also seize cash over a minimum value of £1000. For example, if they believe you have the cash as a result of a crime (such as the sale of stolen property) or intended to use it for criminal purposes. If the police find cash in different parts of the same home, this minimum value applies to the total amount of cash found.
It is important to ask the police what powers they are using to seize cash.
The police should allow you to witness a cash seizure. If you are there, they should ask you to sign the bag in which the cash is sealed.
What documents must the police show before leaving my home?
If the search was carried out under a warrant, when the search is finished the warrant should show:
- If they found the things or people set out in the warrant
- If anything else was seized
- The date and time of the search
- The names of the officers who carried out the search (except if the investigation is linked to terrorism – when warrant numbers and duty stations should be shown)
- If a copy of the warrant, together with a Notice of Rights and Powers, was given to the occupier or left at the premises
You have a right to get a copy of the warrant, which should be returned to the Magistrates’ Court within twelve months.