Entry, search and seizure powers of immigration officers
Produced in partnership with Bijan Hoshi of Garden Court Chambers

The following Immigration practice note produced in partnership with Bijan Hoshi of Garden Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Entry, search and seizure powers of immigration officers
  • Premises
  • The power to enter and search premises for persons
  • The power to search for and seize evidence
  • Search and seizure of evidence while an IO is on a premises
  • Seizure of cash
  • The role of a legal adviser during a search
  • Applications for warrants
  • The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Application to immigration officers and designated customs officials in England and Wales) Order 2013
  • The power to conduct examinations
  • More...

Entry, search and seizure powers of immigration officers

IP COMPLETION DAY: The Brexit transition period ended at 11pm on 31 December 2020. At this time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), transitional arrangements ended and significant changes began to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: What does IP completion day mean for Immigration?

Immigration officers (IOs) have a number of statutorily-conferred powers to enter premises to search for persons and evidence and, on entry, to arrest persons and seize evidence. These powers have increased significantly with the entry into force of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Application to immigration officers and designated customs officials in England and Wales) Order 2013, SI 2013/1542, and again with the enactment of the Immigration Act 2014 (IA 2014) and the Immigration Act 2016 (IA 2016).

Premises

'Premises' are any place and, in particular any:

  1. vehicle, vessel, aircraft or hovercraft

  2. offshore installation

  3. renewable energy installation, or

  4. tent or moveable structure

The power to enter and search premises for persons

An IO can lawfully enter a premises in four different ways:

  1. entry to search and/or arrest with a warrant

  2. entry to search and/or arrest without a warrant

  3. Assistant Director (AD) letter (for business premises), and

  4. informed consent

IOs have the power to enter, by force if

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