BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2004, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Police powers plans: Key points

Here are the key points of the Home Office consultation document Modernising Police Powers to meet Community Needs.

Powers of arrest:

  • Allow police to arrest people for all offences, including minor ones such as graffiti and litter. At present - with exceptions - people can only be arrested for offences which carry sentences of at least five years.

  • Set clearer criteria for citizens' arrests - including a clear legal requirement to hand over the arrested person to the custody of a constable "as soon as practicable".

  • Abolish the ability for police to arrest people for breach of the peace.

Search warrants:

  • The scope of search warrants to cover not just on a specific property, but to focus on the person and cover any premises occupied or controlled or accessible by them.

  • Scrap the one month time limit automatically placed on search warrants.

  • Scrap the rule limiting entry to one occasion only.

  • The time-consuming system of getting search warrants could be speeded up by allowing them to be applied for and granted by e-mail or fax.

Community Support Officers:

  • New powers to direct traffic.

  • Take on the role of custody officers in police stations.

  • Powers to issue warnings to beggars.

  • Powers to enforce byelaws.

  • Powers to search people they have detained.

  • Allow designated investigating officers to operate in plain clothes on occasions.

  • More powers considered to tackle alcohol related anti-social behaviour.


  • Testing people for drugs on arrest rather than when charged.

  • Enhancing the ways of encouraging drug-misusing offenders to undergo appropriate treatment on leaving custody.

  • Allowing courts to remand a person into police detention for up to 12 days if they are suspected of swallowing drugs.

  • Courts to be directed to draw inferences from a suspect's refusal to submit to an intimate search.

Road offences:

  • Create a new offence of using or keeping an incorrectly registered vehicle.

  • Give powers for fixed penalty money to be used to fund expansion of automatic number plate recognition technology.


  • Create a new power of stop, search, seizure and confiscation in relation to possession of fireworks by under-18s in a public place.

Protests outside homes:

  • Create a new offence of protesting outside homes, where the protest is in such a way as to cause harassment, alarm or distress to residents.

  • Amend existing laws to make it an offence for someone ordered to leave the vicinity of a home to return within three months for the purposes of persuading the resident or another that he should do something he is not obliged to do.

Parliament protests:

  • Ensure that the law to deal with demonstrations outside Parliament is effective - possibly to ban long-term protests.


  • Allow police to take DNA samples, fingerprints or foot/shoeprints covertly - for example, by undercover officers - to determine identification of suspects and their possible involvement in an offence, although such material would be for intelligence use only and not for use as evidence in court.

  • Police powers to take suspects' fingerprints should be extended to any public place, not just at the police station.

  • Officers should also be able to photograph suspects outside the police station, and use moving images such as video.

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Under new proposals all offences, even minor ones... could in theory lead to an arrest"

Howard outlines crime fight plans
10 Aug 04  |  Politics
Lib Dems set out police strategy
10 Aug 04  |  Politics
Graffiti 'holds cities to ransom'
02 Aug 04  |  Manchester
War on litter and graffiti urged
28 Jul 04  |  Politics
Blair urges new era in crime fight
19 Jul 04  |  Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific