Is an arrest necessary?

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

  • Is an arrest necessary?
  • Lawful arrest—human rights
  • Lawful arrest—the test
  • Reasonable belief
  • Necessity of the arrest
  • Making representations not to arrest a volunteer
  • Pre-emptive detention for breach of the peace
  • Cross-border powers of arrest

Is an arrest necessary?

Lawful arrest—human rights

The right to liberty is a fundamental principle of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998), which itself gives effect to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (see Practice Note: An introduction to the Human Rights Act 1998). The exercise of the power of arrest is a significant interference with that right. If a person is detained unlawfully it is a trespass and constitutes false imprisonment. The lawfulness of an arrest is based on strict statutory criteria.

Lawful arrest—the test

This test is one of necessity and requires two elements:

  1. a person's involvement or suspected involvement in the commission of a crime, and

  2. reasonable grounds for believing that arrest is necessary

Reasonable belief

Under PACE 1984, s 24(2), an officer must have reasonable grounds (a) for suspecting that an offence has been committed and (b) to suspect the person who is to be arrested of being guilty of the offence that the constable suspects has been committed.

In Hayes v Chief Constable of Merseyside Constabulary, a police officer arranged to meet the claimant, who was suspected of being a drug dealer and having committed an assault. When they met at the agreed time and place, the police officer arrested him upon arrival, stating that the arrest was necessary in order to obtain his mobile telephone, to detain him for further

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