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The Police and Your Civil Rights

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 29 Jan 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.

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[Add a Comment]
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
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
X234 - 24-Sep-17 @ 5:17 PM
asc - Your Question:
Me and a friend are cat breeders, we agreed to do a deal and exchange cats to better our programme, we been planning this for two years. She let me take her cat and I agreed to allow her a female breeder when one available. She has now changed her mind after asking for some updated photos, leaving my programme out of money, the cat has bonded with the rest of mine, I am willing to see my side of the deal through, but now she has cut contact and called the police on me. Where do I stand on this ?

Our Response:
If you can prove that a contract existing (even if not written down), you may be able to take action for breach of contract. You will have to be able to prove that you/your business has made losses as a direct result of this capitulation. It might be worth seeking advice of a legal professional.
CivilRightsMovement - 19-Sep-17 @ 12:28 PM
Me and a friend are cat breeders, we agreed to do a deal and exchange cats to better our programme, we been planning this for two years.. She let me take her cat and I agreed to allow her a female breeder when one available. She has now changed her mind after asking for some updated photos, leaving my programme out of money, the cat has bonded with the rest of mine, I am willing to see my side of the deal through, but now she has cut contact and called the police on me . Where do I stand on this ?
asc - 17-Sep-17 @ 5:25 PM
My partner and I arrived home the other day to find a notice of the powers to search premises and the rights of occupiers.The statutory power under police and criminal evidence act 1984 and codes of practice. And with the section 17 box ticked?What does this mean and does it mean they are coming back.
Stressedwoman - 6-Sep-17 @ 8:54 PM
Ceb - Your Question:
My husband is a sole tenant. Marriage has. Broken down he left the home 5 weeks ago voluntarily. I have occupancy rights by law. He wants to return to the property. Legally I cannot stop him. He cannot remove me either. He called the police to remove me. The police bargained with me to let him return for a week and I leave. I felt pressurised into agreeing as I had no choice so that he and they would leave. It all got too much for me so I verbally agreed. I reported this to my already crime report number later that day. He is coming today again with the police to have me removed. I have tried to be amicable and have agreed he can return while we sort things out, although not as my husband. I have no where to go. I live here with my daughter and his daughter both aged 20. They do not want to be involved. Can the police make me go?

Our Response:
Even though your husband is the sole tenant, if you invested time or money into the property (including bringing up children), you may be able to prove an "interest" in the home. You may need to seek advice from a solicitor in order to apply for an occupation order. As we don't know how long you shared the property and whether you have any children together etc, we can't really advise. If you can't afford a solicitor, try Citizens' Advice who may be able to find you some free legal help.
CivilRightsMovement - 23-Aug-17 @ 10:06 AM
Bee - Your Question:
I recently sent off to DVLA to update my address and photocard very belatedly. I received a letter back informing me my licence had been revoked the previous year without my knowledge. Apparently when I reported a crime I was the victim of, a police officer who spoke to me on the phone then called DVLA to revoke my licence. Driving was not part of the crime which was theft from my bank account but I had mentioned I had Aspergers do he decided I should not be driving. I had held a full clean licence with no points or stops for 12 years before being diagnosed so my consultant said it clearly didn't adversely affect my driving, more likely making me a safer driver. One 50/50 accident in 2006 on a roundabout. Driven about 100 000 miles here and in France. No criminal record whatsoever, nor ever questioned about a crime. No mental or physical health issues except the Aspergers. I am a professional in the same job for almost two decades and I'm a graduate yet the officer who spoke to me has suggested I'm mentally challenged in some way. Can't get DVLA to tell me the exact allegations but GP has confirmed he wasn't contacted and written a letter of support which DVLA has rejected. He's been my GP for 21 years. He is flabbergasted, as am I. Devastating and completely unjustified. Any ideas please on how to proceed?

Our Response:
Gosh that's a complicated one. Legal advice would be our best suggestion to be honest. You need to take the DVLA to task over this...they should not revoke a licence on medical grounds on the strength of one phonecall from somoenbe who's never even met you. It's really not clear which conditions you are compelled to tell the DVLA about and which ones you must tell them about it you think it will affect your driving. See this page which mentions aspergers but merely says "You must tell DVLA if you have Asperger syndrome and it affects your driving".
CivilRightsMovement - 22-Aug-17 @ 2:37 PM
Whatever - Your Question:
My friend got a visit off a company with a civil warrant. Can the police get involved on this kind of warrant? She refused the company entry so they called the police the police asked hers to open the door so the company could gain entrance again she refused the police officer then started threatening us if we didn't open the door they would open the door with the big red key (battering ram) they did this is this legal? Also they twisted something she said and said she was threatening to take her own life so used that as the final reason for entering the house with the battering ram. Once they gained access she was threaded with arrest for breach of the peace of she did not move out of the way to give the company access is this all legal she recorded most that was going on because she was in gear for her own safety

Our Response:
You haven't said what the warrant was issued for etc, so it's difficult for us to comment, sorry.
CivilRightsMovement - 21-Aug-17 @ 11:44 AM
My husband is a sole tenant. Marriage has. Broken down he left the home 5 weeks ago voluntarily. I have occupancy rights by law. He wants to return to the property. Legally I cannot stop him. He cannot remove me either.He called the police to remove me.The police bargained with me to let him return for a week and I leave. I felt pressurised into agreeing as I had no choice so that he and they would leave. It all got too much for me so I verbally agreed. I reported this to my already crime report number later that day. He is coming today again with the police to have me removed.I have tried to be amicable and have agreed he can return while we sort things out, although not as my husband. I have no where to go. I live here with my daughter and his daughter both aged 20. They do not want to be involved. Can the police make me go?
Ceb - 21-Aug-17 @ 6:37 AM
I recently sent off to DVLA to update my address and photocard very belatedly. I received a letter back informing me my licence had been revoked the previous year without my knowledge. Apparently when I reported a crime I was the victim of, a police officer who spoke to me on the phone then called DVLA to revoke my licence. Driving was not part of the crime which was theft from my bank account but I had mentioned I had Aspergers do he decided I should not be driving. I had held a full clean licence with no points or stops for 12 years before being diagnosed so my consultant said it clearly didn't adversely affect my driving, more likely making me a safer driver. One 50/50 accident in 2006 on a roundabout. Driven about 100 000 miles here and in France. No criminal record whatsoever, nor ever questioned about a crime. No mental or physical health issues except the Aspergers. I am a professional in the same job for almost two decades and I'm a graduate yet the officer who spoke to me has suggested I'm mentally challenged in some way. Can't get DVLA to tell me the exact allegations but GP has confirmed he wasn't contacted and written a letter of support which DVLA has rejected. He's been my GP for 21 years. He is flabbergasted, as am I. Devastating and completely unjustified. Any ideas please on how to proceed?
Bee - 20-Aug-17 @ 10:36 PM
My friend got a visit off a company with a civil warrant. Can the police get involved on this kind of warrant? She refused the company entry so they called the police the police asked hers to open the door so the company could gain entrance again she refused the police officer then started threatening us if we didn't open the door they would open the door with the big red key (battering ram) they did this is this legal? Also they twisted something she said and said she was threatening to take her own life so used that as the final reason for entering the house with the battering ram. Once they gained access she was threaded with arrest for breach of the peace of she did not move out of the way to give the company access is this all legal she recorded most that was going on because she was in gear for her own safety
Whatever - 17-Aug-17 @ 2:34 PM
My 15 year old son was taken to the police station and asked to give a statement about his girlfriend's statement can the police interview him without my agreement
Kristy - 10-Aug-17 @ 10:46 PM
Ls - Your Question:
My son received a court summons ,it said he was searched at a music eventand police found a small bag of cocaine and 4 pink tablets and was escouted of the premises. My son did attend this musical event ,but was not searched or questioned by the police,and did see police escort an acquaintance of the premises.Is it possible for this acquaintance to have given my sons details.

Our Response:
It sounds as though this is the case. Seek professional legal advice.
CivilRightsMovement - 8-Aug-17 @ 2:41 PM
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