Prepared By: Sean Alexander Inspector (Ag)
For all Police officers
A professional community policing service, providing crime reduction, improved road safety and a safer environment
To provide a professional policing service and in partnership with all communities, to create a safer environment for all people in St. Lucia.
What is an arrest?
An arrest is the restraining of an individual’s liberty.
- Identify yourself as a Police Officer as soon as the circumstances allow.
- Ascertain the identity of the suspect.
- Tell the suspect he/she is arrested ‘on suspicion of ...........‘
During the arrest, using the words ‘on suspicion’ is a legal technicality which covers your back in the event of proceedings being dropped or a suspect being acquitted etc.
NB: You are personally liable for any civil action which may be brought against you and the department for unlawful arrest; the expression “on suspicion”, gets over this liability.
In December 1996, the House of Lords ruled that responsibility for ensuring reasonable grounds to arrest someone lay with the arresting officer, it is not sufficient to claim ‘ instructions from another officer ‘. It is the responsibility of the arresting officer to ascertain the reasonableness of the arrest for example by a briefing or a report.
- State the act that covers the offence
(Contrary to the Drug (Prevention of Misuse) Act, Chap.3.02 of the Revised laws of St.Lucia 2001.)
- Caution the suspect in accordance with the Codes of Practice –
- Detainee to be given sufficient information to understand that he/she has been deprived of his/her liberty and the reason for the arrest. (PACE COP Para C 10.B)
Say ‘I am arresting you on suspicion of ………………………..’
New Codes of Practice - Arrested person must be given sufficient information to enable him/her to understand that he/she has been deprived of his/her liberty and the reason for the arrest.
- E.g. the individual must be informed of the nature of the suspected offence and when and where it was committed.
- There is no need to ‘lay hands’ on the individual as long as he/she knows the reason and that he/she is being arrested.
- Never mention the Section of the Act - you might get it wrong or it may not be appropriate.
You must caution immediately after arrest - remember to make notes in your pocket book of all these events or better still have someone with you whose notebook you can later adopt.
Read the caution from the card kept in their notebook and the advantages this will have when/if the matter gets to court.
Although the caution says the client does not have to say anything, if the individual wants to, he/she may make a voluntary statement without being gagged. You must not speak to the person about the case, as this may constitute an interview. However, certain questions may be asked about person/premises etc.
If the client does speak, remember to make notes in your pocket book - particularly the fact that he/she has understood the caution.
Searching of Arrested persons
Consider a search of person –
- rub down
- strip search
At the appropriate time:
If the subject is shortly to be taken to a custody office, the rights to intimation and legal advice will be given by the Custody officer.
If the arrestee is to remain on the premises (no custody readily available, assisting with the search etc.) the best practice would be to advice of their rights there if it is considered appropriate.
The individual is also allowed to consult a copy of the codes of practice but this right will be given when he/she sees the custody officer.
Remember that at this stage, the person does not have the right to speak to a solicitor, only to have someone informed.
TYPES OF SEARCHES
For anything that might cause injury. To protect both detainee and officers
Neither Strip nor intimate - Over clothing (shoes and outer clothing can be removed)
Clothing removed - visual check including body orifices
Search involving a physical examination of a person’s body orifices other than the mouth
NB: Strip and intimate should be conducted at the station.
METHODS OF THE VARIOUS SEARCHES
RUB DOWN SEARCHES
Rub down firmly:
- upper body front and back
- belt area, collar and cuffs
- inside legs
NOTE: During the search remember to speak to the client all the time.
- Strip searches must always be carried out by an officer of the same sex
- Strip searches must always be carried out in private
- Except in cases of emergency there must be two other persons present (other than the person being searched)
- Only exceptionally may there be more than two witnesses
People who are searched would not normally be expected to remove all their clothes at once e.g a man should be allowed to put on his shirt/vest before removing his underpants.
A person may be required to hold their arms in the air, or stand with their legs apart and to bend over to allow a visual examination of the genital. Every reasonable effort must be made to secure the person’ co-operation and minimise embarrassment. The search must be carried out with due regard for the person’s sensitivity and vulnerability.
A common sense approach must always be used. A strip search must be completed as soon as possible and the suspect allowed re-dressing.
- A search which consists of the physical examination of a person’s body orifices other than the mouth
- Is authorised at appropriate rank
- Must be carried out by a medical practitioner/nurse - unless personal injury danger see codes of practice Annex A Para 3. And PACE 55
- May only take place at a police station or medical premises
Non medical witnesses must be same sex
THE LAW OF SEARCHING
Section 32 (2) (a) (PACE) - Search of a person on arrest (other than at a Police station) for evidence or means of escape.
- The search must be to the extent that is reasonably required for the purpose of discovering any such thing or any such evidence.
- The officer must have reasonable grounds for believing he has evidence etc. concealed on him.
- Any detained person is entitled to have a named person informed of his whereabouts
- If that person cannot be contacted, he may choose up to two alternatives
- Further attempts are at the discretion of the custody officer or investigating officer
- A detained person may receive visits at the custody officer’s discretion
NB: Does a detained person have the right to speak to their nominated person themselves? No. Only to have that person informed of their arrest.
Sec 56 PACE
- All people in police detention are entitled to legal advice. However, access to a solicitor can be delayed. If access to a solicitor is delayed, in any event they are not to be delayed beyond 36 hours.
Section 58 PACE deals with delaying access to a solicitor. It explains what a minefield this course of action is.
Access to a named solicitor can only be denied if there is evidence that the solicitor is involved or complicit in the crime. Hard to prove?
GETTING IT RIGHT
- Bringing the Police into disrepute
- Losing a case
- Losing evidence, interviews etc.
- Personal liability
Written explanations and report
NB: Arrests are sometimes high profile (even media interest under exceptional circumstances) so the reputation and credibility of the Department can rest on an arrest being carried out correctly.
Because arrest is the first stage, it is important to get it right. In court, years later, defence will try to show that officers made errors at the arrest stage. It is obviously more difficult for them to do this if the rules have been followed, and have been seen to be followed. If they succeed they will use it to imply general incompetence on the part of the prosecuting authority throughout the course of the investigation which can seriously reduce the prospects of a successful trial.
The officer making the arrest is totally responsible for his actions and is answerable for them in court. Please be guided accordingly.
Prepared by: Sean Alexander Insp. (Ag)
Central Intelligence Unit