Friday, 31 December 2010

Detention without charge

Within England and Wales, the detention for questioning by the Police of arrested suspects is subject to certain time limits and these are set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 - PACE.

The powers of "Police Constables" to arrest without an arrest warrant are in PACE s.24.  

Once arrested, the Police may detain a person for up to 24 hours in the first instance and detention must usually be at "Designated Police Stations" with duly appointed "Custody Officers" who must be at least the rank of Sergeant.  Custody Officers have very specific duties and responsibilities.  Basically, in calculating the time for detention, the "clock" begins
to run from earliest of (a) the time the person arrives at the Police Station or (b) the time of arrest.  To ensure that grounds for detention remain, there must be "reviews" which are conducted by Reviewing Officers who must not be connected to the the investigation.  Throughout detention, a custody record has to be maintained.

In cases where a person is held in relation to an indictable offence, the Police may initially hold the person for up to 24 hours - PACE s.41.  However, under PACE s.42 - detention may be extended to up to 36 hours.  Detention beyond 36 hours must be authorised by a Magistrates' Court which is empowered to issue a Warrant of Further Detention for a maximum of 36 further hours - see PACE s.43.  Furthermore, the court may extend a Warrant of Further Detention to authorise detention to a maximum period of 96 hours - PACE s.44.

Whilst a person is detained by the Police, PACE Code C - "Detention, Treatment and Questioning of Persons by  Police Officers" - is applicable.  It is possible for some breaches of Code C to result in the defence applying to have evidence excluded under, for example, PACE s.78.  (Very extensive case law has developed around s.78 - see Modern Law of Evidence 6th Edition - Adrian Keane).

Perhaps the leading text on PACE is "Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984" by Michael Zander QC

It should be noted that different time limits apply in certain "terrorism cases."  A useful summary of the law in that area is "Pre-Charge Detention in Terrorism Cases" 9th July 2010.  See also Terrorism Law.

1 comment:

  1. The question most often is that what if the person has been caught just an hour after the end of the last working day of the week.