First of all it is important to remember that the police are not duty bound to investigate every allegation which comes their way. They will consider a number of factors before making a decision to commence a formal investigation. Most importantly, they must consider whether the allegation itself discloses a recognisable offence in law. Even if it does, they must consider the merits of the allegation and also whether a police investigation is a proportionate use of police time and resources.
There are numerous checks and measures on police powers of investigation that arise out of numerous sources of legislation, codes of practice, and other guidance. Therefore, despite the impression created by television police dramas, with their scenes of heavy-handed officers knocking down doors and storming houses in the early hours, the reality is that such drastic steps are the exception, not the norm.
The police must apply for a warrant issued by a Magistrate if they wish to enter a person’s premises either to arrest that individual or conduct a search prior to arrest. A magistrate will only issue a warrant in the more serious cases and where they are satisfied that for practical reasons a summons cannot be served. Similarly, any other less direct action which may intrude upon a person’s private life, such as attending a person’s place of work, is likely to breach the individual’s right to privacy unless the police can clearly demonstrate their actions are a necessary and proportionate response to the allegations.
Where the police have already contacted an individual and have secured their cooperation with an investigation, it will often not be necessary to proceed to an arrest at all. In fact in recent years there has been an emphasis on adopting alternative approaches to arrest, especially in light of increasing cuts to police resources.
At Vardags our intimate understanding of both the legislative framework and the case law regulating police powers allows us to make timely and effective intervention on behalf of our clients to minimise the personal impact of the investigation wherever possible. Should you have any reason to fear an unwanted visit from the police, please contact us immediately to discuss your concerns further with one of our legal experts.