Dawn raid—who can raid my organisation and why?
Dawn raid—who can raid my organisation and why?

The following Risk & Compliance guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Dawn raid—who can raid my organisation and why?
  • What is a dawn raid?
  • Purpose of a dawn raid
  • Search warrant
  • Who can carry out a dawn raid?
  • When can investigators begin their search?
  • What can they search for and seize?
  • Action plan

The UK Government has legislated to permit a number of UK authorities to obtain search warrants to 'raid' a business premises.

The potential for a dawn raid to be executed against a company is an everyday reality for many businesses given the increasing criminalisation of business practices, more regulatory criminal offences and the proliferation of money laundering laws and regulations. The prospect of an intervention by the UK authorities has increased since the introduction of the Bribery Act 2010 and the new corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery. This offence will soon be mirrored by a corporate offence of failure to prevent tax evasion and the Government is considering whether to introduce a corporate offence of a failure to prevent economic crime and money laundering.

What is a dawn raid?

A dawn raid is an unexpected visit by the police and/or investigators from another prosecution body to search premises when they suspect the business or an individual has been involved in criminal activity. Investigators typically arrive unannounced first thing in the morning (hence 'dawn' raids) and are always meant to be unexpected to ensure that evidence is best preserved for the search. Investigators often take an aggressive approach which calls for the organisation to respond quickly and effectively to ensure they comply with their obligations and prevent disruption to