Seizure and retention of property
Seizure and retention of property

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

  • Seizure and retention of property
  • Seizure under a warrant authority
  • Seizure under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, s 19(3)
  • Retention of property under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  • Seizure under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, s 50—retain and sift
  • Retention of seized material under the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, s 50
  • Seizure with consent

Lawful authority to seize and retain property (subject to legal professional privilege) following a search of premises can be achieved in four different ways:

  1. under a warrant authority

  2. under the section 19(3) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE 1984)

  3. to retain and sift elsewhere under the section 50 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (CJPA 2001), and

  4. with the consent of the owner

Seizure under a warrant authority

Where an investigating authority is in possession of a warrant it should use its seizure powers under the warrant as they are simple, quick and efficient. Possession may be taken of any documents (subject to legal privilege) that appear to fit the description specified in the information supporting the application to the court for a search warrant.

See Practice Note: Obtaining and executing a search warrant under PACE 1984.

A decision as to whether any particular document can be seized under the warrant must generally be made during the search. Large quantities of documents (or computer data) should not be seized simply for the sake of convenience with the view to sifting through it at the police station or investigating authorities premises in order to determine which fall within the terms of the warrant.

Seizure under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, s 19(3)

A constable