Search of person
Search of person

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

  • Search of person
  • Search on arrest–away from the police station
  • ‘Reasonable grounds’
  • Conducting a search away from the police station
  • Non-Intimate searches at the police station
  • Conducting a search at the police station
  • Strip searches
  • Conduct of a strip search
  • Searches to establish identity

Search on arrest–away from the police station

A person who has been arrested at a place other than a police station may be searched by a police officer under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, (PACE 1984) s 32.

A search under PACE 1984, s 32 must be made at the time of arrest. It cannot be conducted several hours later (R v Badham [1987] Crim LR 202 (not reported by LexisNexis®)).PACE 1984, s 32(1)

The officer can search an arrested person only if he has reasonable grounds for believing:

  1. the arrested person may present a danger to themselves or others, andPACE 1984, s 32(1)

  2. the arrested person may have concealed items on them to use to escape from custody or which might be evidence in relation to an offencePACE 1984, s 32(2)(a)

The officer may seize and retain anything they find if they have reasonable grounds for believing:

  1. the person might use the item to cause physical injury to themself, or others, orPACE 1984, s 32(8)

  2. to escape from lawful custody or which might be evidence in relation to an offencePACE 1984, s 32(9)

An officer cannot seize and retain any item subject to legal privilege.

‘Reasonable grounds’

‘Reasonable grounds’ is not defined in PACE 1984. In Tomlinson it was held that whether an officer had ‘reasonable grounds’ is both an objective and subjective test. The test is whether the officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that there are grounds for a search.Tomlinson v Director of Public Prosecutions [1992] Lexis Citation 3163

If the officer does not believe they have reasonable grounds for a search