Facts of the case in brief
Alex is a football player and was returning home with a large holdall with a new football kit which was given to her in the training centre. after her training. She noticed that a car was following her slowly. Noticing this, she sped up her pace and started running. The car also sped and came in front of her and a police officer named P.C. Blatter came out and asked Alex to freeze. The officer searched Alex and found some football equipment and alleged that Alex has stolen this equipment. Alex was asked to come to the police station. She was scared and she ran away but she was caught by a neighbour named Neville and he thought that Alex was running from the police after stealing something. The officer informed Neville that he shall be awarded for this act as he has helped to catch a thief. Alex was brought to the station and was charged to obstruct a police officer in his lawful duty under Section 89 of the Police Act 1996.
Advisory report for Alex
As per the facts of the given case, it is observed that the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 are attracted. This Act also provides for the code of practice which is to be followed by the police officers in their duty. It is also noted that there is the application of human rights also under the ECHR in this case. Two aspects are recognised in this case. These aspects are the power of the citizens to carry and continue their business and activities without the interference of the executive under Article 5, Article 6 and Article 8 under the European Convention on Human Rights and the power of the police to take personal rights and liberties under the ground of arrest or reasonable suspicion of having committed a crime.
As per the applied legislation PACE 1984, there is a prescribed Code of Practice, by the Secretary of State under Section 66. Though they are not law and are not enforceable in the court, yet they are guidelines regarding how the police should operate their work and fulfil their duties. Apart from not having legal enforceability, the police may be held liable for the breach of these codes and provisions of PACE. The liability may be a civil action, an internal disciplinary action and in extreme cases criminal action. Reference of the case, Mustapha Osman v. Southwark Crown Court can be taken where it was held by the court that in case the police use excessive power than permitted, the person may apply force to resist. Moreover, the person may also opt not to answer the questions asked by the police unless there is suspicion of commission of the crime.
The principle of reasonable suspicion is also applied in this case and it is provided under the legislation PACE under Section 1(3) which states that the police may not arrest and detain any person unless he has a reasonable suspicion that the person arrested and detained has possession of some stolen article or object. There is a legal test to determine the reasonable ground of suspicion. The test is a two-stage test that requires the following:
- There must be genuine suspicion by the police officer that they will get the object which they are searching.
- The suspicion of getting the object must be reasons beyond doubt.
Moreover, there is also the applicability of human rights in case a person is searched and detained unlawfully. The European Convention of Human Rights provides for a fair trial for the arrested person and also protects from unlawful arrest. Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights protects from detention without the order of the court.
On advising the above laws on the facts of the given case of Alex, it can be stated that Alex was unlawfully stopped and searched by the police officer P.C. Blatter as there was no suspicion of any commission of a crime. Alex was merely a football player who was returning from her training and there was no such act of crime done by Alex which could give a reasonable suspicion to the police officer to justify Alex’s arrest. Moreover, the police officer also influenced and wrongly guided the neighbour of Alex named Neville who also help catch Alex when she ran after she was afraid. Hence, the act of Neville was merely done in good faith to assist the police officer with wrong information.
Further, as per the provision of Section 1(1), of PACE, it has been provided that the police have to conduct the search public place and not in any place which is used as a dwelling. Thus, in this case, the search was also in violation of this provision as officer P.C. Blatter has done the search in the garden of Alex which was not a public place. Lastly, Section 2 and 3 of PACE provides that the police have to inform the arrested person about the ground for which the search is been conducted. But in this case, the officer directly alleged that Alex has stolen the equipment and she was informed after her search was completed. Also, the provision under Section 3 states that if the search requires removal of clothes, it shall be done by the officer of the same sex. Hence, there was a violation of this provision as well as the officer made Alex remove her clothes and shoes.
Remedies to Alex
Thus, Alex can claim civil action against the stop and search conducted as the search was unlawful and not done in the prescribed manner. She can claim compensation for unnecessary harassment and violation of her human rights. Moreover, she can also claim for an internal disciplinary action to be taken against officer Blatter as he has not followed the prescribed procedure for stop and search under the legislation PACE.
Clayton E, 'Stop and Search and Police Legitimacy' (2017) 27 Policing and Society.
Green A, 'Stop and Search: The Anatomy of a Police Power' (2017) 27 Policing and Society.
Halder D, 'Stop, Search, Frisk and Detain A Comparative Analysis of Police Power Between India, UK and US'  SSRN Electronic Journal.
Mustapha Osman v. Southwark Crown Court  EWHC Admin 622 (1st July 1999).
Ozin P and Norton H, ‘PACE: A practical guide to the police and criminal evidence act 1984’ (2019) Oxford University Press.
Rice v. Connolly  2 QB 414
 Debarati Halder, 'Stop, Search, Frisk and Detain A Comparative Analysis of Police Power Between India, UK and US'  SSRN Electronic Journal.
 Right to liberty and security of person
 Right to respect for private life
 Right to a fair trial
  EWHC Admin 622 (1st July 1999).
 Rice v. Connolly  2 QB 414
 Andrew Green, 'Stop and Search: The Anatomy of a Police Power' (2017) 27 Policing and Society.
 Estelle Clayton, 'Stop and Search and Police Legitimacy' (2017) 27 Policing and Society.
 Ozin P and Norton H, ‘PACE: A practical guide to the police and criminal evidence act 1984’ (2019) Oxford University Press.