Home > Government & Legislation > The Police and Your Civil Rights

The Police and Your Civil Rights

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 24 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Civil Rights Police Legal Suspect

Awareness is one of the best deterrents when it comes to the police and avoiding the abuse of your civil rights. Making it known to the police that you are aware of your rights should make them more cautious when it comes to your rights.

The Police and your Rights

The police do have the right to exercise certain powers when it comes to dealing with suspects but these powers must be exercised responsibly. On the whole the police will act responsibly but there have been many cases of the police abusing the rights of suspects. The police are not above the law and there can be legal consequences if citizen’s rights are abused. The police can be sued, disciplined or even prosecuted if they infringe or abuse the rights of members of the public.

Citizen’s Rights

When confronted with the police many people will unknowingly waive a number of their civil rights. This is usually due to the fact that a great number of people are simply not aware of their basic civil rights. It may also be the case that when confronted with the police many people will simply do as the police ask. For some people the police are often imposing and even intimidating figures of power. The police represent the government but the government also acts for its citizens, and there is legal protection in place when it comes to citizen’s rights.

Know your Rights

It will be beneficial to be aware of your rights when it comes to dealing with the police, regardless of the situation. The police are less likely to break any of your civil rights if you make them aware that you do actually know what your rights are. For instance you can refuse to answer any police questions until you have taken legal advice. A number of people will simply waive this right as soon as they are questioned. If a member of the public has not been cautioned by the police then they are under no obligation to answer any police questions.

Co-operating with the Police

It will always be the best policy to co-operate with the police when they initially question you. If they ask for personal details such as your name and address then these should be given. If the police have stopped you with the intention of proceeding with a search then you do have the right to know the reason for the search. The police cannot search a member of the public without reasonable suspicion. If the police cannot give a valid reason then they should not continue with any search. Reasonable suspicion is not necessary if the suspect is in a designated stop and search area.

Codes of Practice

The powers and rights of the police are laid out in various codes of practice. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the codes of practice contain all of the rights and powers of the police. The Pace act covers the rights of the police and the suspect when it comes to issues such as stop and search, and arresting, interviewing and detaining suspects. Any breach of these codes or the suspect’s rights can mean legal consequences for the police.

Enforcing your Rights

If your feel your civil rights have been infringed or abused by the police in any way there are a number of options open to you. Complaints against the police can be made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). You can also make a complaint directly through your local police station. If your grievance is serious enough you can sue the police but this option should not be considered without taking expert legal advice.

Human and civil rights are in place to guarantee protection from abuse and any breach or infringement of these rights is a very serious matter. The police are not above the law and they can face the same legal consequences as any other member of the public if they do abuse the civil rights of any citizen. Read further for more information about what happens if you are detained by the police.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hello, I have had a police officer come straight up behind my car while my car is parked safely in a car space and he has immediately opened my car door to say something to me, is an officer allowed to do this without previously showing any indication he wanted to talk to me?
Km - 24-Jul-18 @ 10:51 AM
Hi, I just wanted advice about police continually knocking on the door after midnight, every night now for 4 consecutive nights and it is likely to continue. My brother's girlfriend is in care and has a curfew for 11 o'clock. Since we have been made awareof this the young lady has not and will not be staying at our residence after this time. We have informed the police of this, however, when the girl is not in her care environment after this time the police continue to come to our house at 1 or 2 in the morning. This has been quite distressing as everyone in the house gets up very early for work and when all the pets are disturbed it's hard to get the house calm again. Do we have any rights in relation to getting this stopped? I'd really appreciate any advice.
CM - 5-Jul-18 @ 1:28 PM
Manpoole - Your Question:
I'm sitting in a Pub garden with my elderly disabled neighbour, who I take shopping at least once a week, having dinner. A Police officer tried to enter the premises stating to his collegue 'I want a word with him'. His collegue replied 'Leave him he is with someone'. and they walked away. Can a Police officer enter such premises, or, stop you in the street just to 'have a word'?I am registered disabled and have Tourettes Syndrome. As a result I become distressed easily. I'm afraid this officer is intent on causing distress resulting in him creating a situation which then gives him lawful cause. If I am doing nothing wrong surely stopping me in the street to 'Have a word' is illegal?

Our Response:
A police officer can stop and question you at any time. They can ask fo details such asyour name, what you're doing and where you're going. You do not have to answer any questions if you don't want to.
CivilRightsMovement - 6-Jun-18 @ 11:28 AM
I'm sitting in a Pub garden with my elderly disabled neighbour, who I take shopping at least once a week, having dinner. A Police officer tried to enter the premises stating to his collegue 'I want a word with him'. His collegue replied 'Leave him he is with someone'. and they walked away. Can a Police officer enter such premises, or, stop you in the street just to 'have a word'? I am registered disabled and have Tourettes Syndrome. As a result I become distressed easily. I'm afraid this officer is intent on causing distress resulting in him creating a situation which then gives him lawful cause. If I am doing nothing wrong surely stopping me in the street to 'Have a word' is illegal?
Manpoole - 5-Jun-18 @ 10:04 AM
Marie - Your Question:
Tonight my 19 yo bro got arrested for getting abit too involved with an arrest that was already happening. 6 police men jumped on him, one of them kneed him, and another hit him in the face resulted in his mouth bleeding.when I said didnt take so many of them to arrest him and was out of order the force they used cause he has rights, one police officer said what rights, I said well the right for your to not to do that to start with his reply was can hit him in the face if we want to nothing you can do. I just want to kno what is classed as excessive force? Six men on one boy is extreme to me. Just want to know his rights? People on the street believed his arrest was out of order too. Wouldnt give us badge numbers. Just what are our rights? How do we complain?

Our Response:
You can make a complaint to the Independent Officer for Police Conduct
CivilRightsMovement - 9-Apr-18 @ 2:04 PM
Both my son's have been stabbed 3 times by a local gang and are now being harassed by police. Police have issued an Osman warning to my older son but keep coming to my property to find him even though I have taken him off my tenancy and formally complained he does not live with me and to ask them to stop knock my door. They have no evidence that my son is a criminal and he does not have a criminal record yet police will make remarks like because of your criminal activity that's why the gang are after you. Even though we have explained it is for another reason of informing on them! Police have searched my house without a warrant and good reason at 3am waking my small children and been coming to my property every month for around 6 months now. I'm fed up and have basically have them put my son's life in danger demanding him to come to my house at midnight to sign an Osman warning. Yet they claim they come to my house and his step dad's house to check he is ok, last time they came my son was stabbed for a second time. They have been asked for over 6 months for a risk assessment by my housing but are refraining from doing one even though the last stabbing took place outside my house and I have small children!! I'm at my wit's end with worry and don't know what I can do!!!
Cece - 8-Apr-18 @ 9:20 PM
Tonight my 19 yo bro got arrested for getting abit too involved with an arrest that was already happening. 6 police men jumped on him, one of them kneed him, and another hit him in the face resulted in his mouth bleeding..when i said didnt take so many of them to arrest him and was out of order the force they used cause he has rights, one police officer said what rights, i said well the right for your to not to do that to start with his reply was can hit him in the face if we want to nothing you can do. I just want to kno what is classed as excessive force? Six men on one boy is extreme to me. Just want to know his rights? People on the street believed his arrest was out of order too. Wouldnt give us badge numbers. Just what are our rights? How do we complain?
Marie - 8-Apr-18 @ 1:22 AM
On Saturday and again on Monday, I had two arguments with a dog owner who refused to control his dog despite the dog barking at my frightened child for ten minutes. He threatened that I would get 'hassle'. On Monday night, at about 3am the police knocked loudly on my door. I did not answer as I am a single parent of a 10 yr old child, and I did not want my child to be afraid. Also two years ago, I had a similar experiencewhen the police 'claimed' to have the wrong address.Then I lived in a quiet semi-rural area. Now I live in a rural, well-to-do, crime-free area. When I called in South Yorkshire Police yesterday morning, they were unable to provide any information, and were rude as well. Do I have the right to demand to know why I was so rudely awakened? Must the police provide me with this information? Thanks Tommy
tommy - 21-Mar-18 @ 12:24 PM
James - Your Question:
This article is unhelpful and misleading. It states "If they [police] ask for personal details such as your name and address then these should be given". You are NOT required by law to give your name or any personal details to the police if you haven't committed an offence and aren't stopped driving a vehicle. It's worrying that this website is spreading incorrect information.

Our Response:
We haven't said it's compulsory...but we do advocate cooperation with the police at all times.
CivilRightsMovement - 19-Mar-18 @ 2:03 PM
This article is unhelpful and misleading. It states "If they [police] ask for personal details such as your name and address then these should be given". You are NOT required by law to give your name or any personal details to the police if you haven't committed an offence and aren't stopped driving a vehicle. It's worrying that this website is spreading incorrect information.
James - 16-Mar-18 @ 3:34 PM
When your released on bail the police have 28 days to file charges unless they get a 3 month extension. But what if the police break the 28 day deadline without a judge granting the extension. Have they violated my rights by breaking procedure
Confusedcitizen - 28-Feb-18 @ 7:04 PM
A policeman who assaulted me was found guilty in magistrates court.He appealed and his sentence was quashed in crown court The police force then used the current guidelines and he only got a report on his recordinstead of a disciplinary hearing and dismissal Seems they are able to protect thier own and I have no further right to appeal Lies in court transcript I have copies of are shocking Do I have anymore civil rights?
Kazzym - 21-Feb-18 @ 11:12 PM
Amanda - Your Question:
HiOk I'm in messy situation. When my daughter went off to uni I couldn't afford to get her the things she needed in one go so I stupidly opened catalogues in her name without her knowledge. I intended to order the things she needed, pay them off and close the account. I paid regularly but my husband had a stroke and I fell behind. She's now got 2 ccj's on her credit file because of me and I feel awful. By trying to help her I just made a big mess. I've satisfied both of the debts and I've written to the court who issued the ccj's to explain it was my debt not hers. I've told her to report it to the police because it's the o my way to clear her file but she's reluctant because she doesn't want to see me get into trouble with the police. What I did was wrong despite the reasons behind it. What will happen next if she goes ahead to report it? Will I be arrested for it? We're both in a mess over it all

Our Response:
What was the court response when you told them it was your debt? We suggest you go to local Citizens' Advice or a contact a debt charity like Step Change before making your decision.
CivilRightsMovement - 31-Jan-18 @ 10:38 AM
Hi Ok I'm in messy situation. When my daughter went off to uni I couldn't afford to get her the things she needed in one go so I stupidly opened catalogues in her name without her knowledge. I intended to order the things she needed, pay them off and close the account. I paid regularly but my husband had a stroke and I fell behind. She's now got 2 ccj's on her credit file because of me and I feel awful. By trying to help her I just made a big mess. I've satisfied both of the debts and I've written to the court who issued the ccj's to explain it was my debt not hers. I've told her to report it to the police because it's the o my way to clear her file but she's reluctant because she doesn't want to see me get into trouble with the police. What I did was wrong despite the reasons behind it. What will happen next if she goes ahead to report it? Will I be arrested for it? We're both in a mess over it all
Amanda - 29-Jan-18 @ 8:05 PM
Hi my daughter has to go for an interview at the police station but there both evening appointments one was 8.30 pm and the other was 10.30 pm I thought they said 10.30 this morning so went to the police station with my daughter to find out its 10.30 pm so I told them at the police station I couldn't do evenings I'm disabled with no transport the office I spoke to on the phone said if I didn't take my daughter to this interview there would be a warrant out for her arrest I'm worried even though the lady I spoke to today at the police station said she would email them and let me k ow with a phonecall later tonight as the officer isn't at work till 10.30 tonight
Chez - 15-Jan-18 @ 6:43 PM
Knucklehead - Your Question:
Can the police execute a search warrant and seize goods if there is only a 15 year old girl in the property. She wasn’t given the opportunity to get an appropriate adult or anything. And would any evidence be accepted in court?

Our Response:
We don't really know for sure. This is from Citizens' Advice:
"...police must have a search warrant before they can enter the premises. They should enter property at a reasonable hour unless this would frustrate their search. When the occupier is present, the police must ask for permission to search the property – again, unless it would frustrate the search to do this.
When they are carrying out a search police officers must:
identify themselves and - if they are not in uniform - show their warrant card, and explain why they want to search, the rights of the occupier and whether the search is made with a search warrant or not.
If the police have a warrant, they can force entry if:
the occupier has refused entry, or
it is impossible to communicate with the occupier, or
the occupier is absent, or
the premises are unoccupied, or
they have reasonable grounds for believing that if they do not force entry it would hinder thesearch, or someone would be placed in danger.
When police can seize property
Police should only seize goods if they have reasonable grounds for believing that:
they have been obtained illegally; or
they are evidence in relation to an offence.
In either of these cases, they must also have reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary to seize the goods to prevent them being lost, stolen or destroyed."
CivilRightsMovement - 20-Dec-17 @ 1:49 PM
Can the police execute a search warrant and seize goods if there is only a 15 year old girl in the property. She wasn’t given the opportunity to get an appropriate adult or anything. And would any evidence be accepted in court?
Knucklehead - 19-Dec-17 @ 8:33 PM
You don't see anything wrong with a police officer male on his own starring in my windows im a single parent female with a clean police record I am being harassed for no reason there are drug dealers in my area and they drive straight passed their houses yes I will go speak to a senior officer
Molo17 - 5-Dec-17 @ 9:20 PM
Molo17 - Your Question:
The local beat officer round my area drives passed my house late at night really slow starting in my house this happens most nights when I have approached him he said he was looking for someone I said what in my house and he just said no I'm doing my rounds yet he only slows down for my house it's getting to the point where I feel that intimidated I don't want to live in my house any more how do I complain about this should I keep a diary of all the times he does this he generally by himself aswell when he does this ??

Our Response:
It doesn't sound like anything out of the ordinary to us, but if you're concerned, why not speak to a senior officer at the station?
CivilRightsMovement - 5-Dec-17 @ 2:58 PM
The local beat officer round my area drives passed my house late at night really slow starting in my house this happens most nights when I have approached him he said he was looking for someone I said what in my house and he just said no I'm doing my rounds yet he only slows down for my house it's getting to the point where I feel that intimidated I don't want to live in my house any more how do I complain about this should I keep a diary of all the times he does this he generally by himself aswell when he does this ??
Molo17 - 4-Dec-17 @ 9:16 PM
having a neighbour disbute with the tennants next door, the police have all ready given me a formal warning, and the land lord, for harrasment.The police came backto my property, i refused to answer the the door, do they have a right to beak in to interview me? i made it quite clear to the officer and the councllor who was present , that if they had to retun i would not beco oprative.
millie - 1-Dec-17 @ 6:03 PM
if the policebreak your door in are they responsible to secure your property?and what happens if your possessions are stolen?
agy - 17-Nov-17 @ 11:25 PM
tay - Your Question:
Whats the law regarding police using a body cam in your house without your permission

Our Response:
Under normal circumstances, police officers should not use BWV in private dwellings. However, if a user is present at an incident in a private dwelling and is there for a genuine policing purpose, they are entitled to make a BWV recording in the same way as they would record any other incident.
CivilRightsMovement - 14-Nov-17 @ 10:20 AM
whats the law regarding police using a body cam in your house without your permission
tay - 12-Nov-17 @ 12:02 AM
There is a dispute over a horse. The money was originally paid for by selling another horse that belonged to me. I then agreed to develop this new horse and sell on with the intention of splitting any profit with another person. Profit being anything over the original stake, I.e what the horse cost to buy. The horse is still not sold but I'm being hounded to pay over money that they perceive is profit. They are now stating that they will remove the horse into their care to sell and are going to bring a police escort to facilitate the removal.Is this action legal. Can the police do this. This has not gone to solicitors nor has anything gone through the court. No legal representation at all. Not even a letter stating. Only made aware of this through text messages. Please advise
Concerned - 11-Nov-17 @ 11:25 AM
Me and my friend used to work days in carehome with metal patients and one day something happened to one patient he had bruise all over his body and face and some how he told other staff our name so next day at work police came to get us to station without saying anything and we got searched , interviewed and took our phone and shoes and put us on bail and we were suspended from work, after 4 months police called us saying our bailed is done its no more and we like ok so whats gonna happen ? They told us we have to wait for letter. I was ok then after 14 months we were called at work place to intervew once again so did it and after a week got a letter saying we are sacked so i was like after all this time we get sacked and we asked the manager from our work place why it was this long they said cause the police took long time and now its been 16 months we were summon on court now it says we are going to crown court and now its for more trial and my solicitor says its gonna finished next year so is this even possible?Not being told nothing for 16 months and staight to court?
Zack - 22-Oct-17 @ 12:16 AM
My friends son has recently had an allegation of sexual assault against him and because she has a child at home she has been told he cannot be in her home this has been going on for a couple of weeks now with no word from the police is this acceptable as he says this is just someone with a grudge and he has not done anything
Rar - 16-Oct-17 @ 9:34 PM
Ellen - Your Question:
My ex's wife has been receiving messages about my ex and me via social media. They have gone to the police and they said they will investigate. I received an email from a PC stating that she wanted to know if I know who is sending these messages because they amount to harrasment. Then she went on with the following quote ; "I would also like to request that you do not contact Adam or any of the Smith family either in person or by any third party and by any method of communication, continuing to contact them in any way may mean that further action may be taken against yourself for any offences."Obviously I had contact with my ex (he wasnt my ex until about 12 hours prior to the PC's email) and I had sent a message of apology to his wife that day. I feel confused (am I a suspect? Why am I not allowed to contact them?) and intimidated (action will be taken against me for any offences) I have 2 questions; if I am a suspect, would the PC not have to inform me of this fact and secondly, is this PC allowed to warn me like this when I have done nothing to warrant a threat of actions being taken against me.? Thank you for your help.

Our Response:
Why not ring up and ask the PC to elaborate and clarify things for you?
CivilRightsMovement - 16-Oct-17 @ 10:46 AM
My ex's wife has been receiving messages about my ex and me via social media. They have gone to the police and they said they will investigate. I received an email from a PC stating that she wanted to know if I know who is sending these messages because they amount to harrasment. Then she went on with the following quote ; "I would also like to request that you do not contact Adam or any of the Smith family either in person or by any third party and by any method of communication, continuing to contact them in any way may mean that further action may be taken against yourself for any offences." Obviously I had contact with my ex (he wasnt my ex until about 12 hours prior to the PC's email) and I had sent a message of apology to his wife that day. I feel confused (am I a suspect? Why am I not allowed to contact them?) and intimidated (action will be taken against me for any offences) I have 2 questions; if I am a suspect, would the PC not have to inform me of this fact and secondly, is this PC allowed to warn me like this when I have done nothing to warrant a threat of actions being taken against me.? Thank you for your help.
Ellen - 13-Oct-17 @ 8:46 AM
X234 - Your Question:
Hey I was involved in a strange situation last week. I was out with friends drinking and got too drunk and cannot remember getting into what I thought was a taxi but turned out was not I got destrssed as the man from what witnesses told me would not let me out of the car they called the police even though I got out with their help and did not want police involved they turned up took my details and I got a taxi home I advised that night I wished to take it no further and just wanted to get home. They are now requesting I come make a statement to say I don't wish to take it further but I'm worried they will try charge me for being drunk can that happen ? Thanks

Our Response:
They won't charge you. They're probably trying to keep other women/girls safe from this person by getting some more information from you and making sure you definitely don't want to press charges now that you're sober.
CivilRightsMovement - 26-Sep-17 @ 12:24 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Fletcheee134
    Re: Protecting Your Privacy
    Hi was wondering out anyone can help. I'm in a rental property and surrounding my house is a church to the side and a secondary school to…
    15 August 2018
  • CivilRightsMovement
    Re: Protecting Your Privacy
    Anna - Your Question:We have a 6 acre lake in grounds. We only own a small part of the lake and a private fishing club own the rest. We…
    13 August 2018
  • Anna
    Re: Protecting Your Privacy
    We have a 6 acre lake in grounds. We only own a small part of the lake and a private fishing club own the rest. We have 400ft of lake…
    11 August 2018
  • CivilRightsMovement
    Re: Anti Social Behaviour Orders, ASBOs: Your Rights
    Coco12 - Your Question:Hi, I have received a written warning for antisocial behaviour for leaving…
    10 August 2018
  • CivilRightsMovement
    Re: The Rights of a Victim of Crime
    Jack - Your Question:Good afternoon, long story short, my brother's landlord evicted him and damaged all his belongings,…
    10 August 2018
  • Coco12
    Re: Anti Social Behaviour Orders, ASBOs: Your Rights
    Hi, I have received a written warning for antisocial behaviour for leaving rubbish bins on the floor…
    9 August 2018
  • Jack
    Re: The Rights of a Victim of Crime
    Good afternoon, long story short, my brother's landlord evicted him and damaged all his belongings, basically threw everything…
    9 August 2018
  • CivilRightsMovement
    Re: Protecting Your Privacy
    JH - Your Question:My neighbours have a trampoline which is right next to the fence on the side that is our boundary. The children look…
    6 August 2018
  • masud
    Re: Grass Roots Activism
    Enlist Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) as a Terrorist Organization Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) is an armed wing of Bangladesh Awami…
    5 August 2018
  • ARTURO
    Re: Staging a Legal Peaceful Protest
    Can I stage a peaceful protest at an event organised by the company that I'm protesting against? I will have to pay to enter…
    31 July 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the CivilRightsMovement website. Please read our Disclaimer.