Applications for the return of property seized during criminal investigations
Applications for the return of property seized during criminal investigations

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Applications for the return of property seized during criminal investigations
  • Applications under the Police (Property) Act 1897, s 1
  • Applications under the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980, s 48
  • Applications under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, s 59

Any informal request or formal application for the return of property seized by an investigating authority during a criminal investigation will depend on the authority under which the property was seized and whether the investigation is ongoing or proceedings have concluded. In the first instance an informal approach should be made to the investigating authority for the return of the seized property. This will usually be the officer in the case who, if they agree to the request, will inform the police property centre that has possession of the items to arrange for them to be returned to their owner. If such a request is refused it may be necessary to proceed with a formal application for the return of property.

Before making a decision regarding such an application there are statutory retention periods to consider for convicted offenders. If the investigation has concluded and the accused is convicted of an offence, all material that may be relevant to the criminal investigation must be retained at least until a person is released from custody if a custodial sentence has been imposed or, where no custodial sentence has been imposed, until six months from the date of conviction.

If a formal application is required it will usually be made either to the magistrates' court or the Crown Court by either the investigating