The police have no power at common law to search someone prior to arrest. However, under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act, the police may stop and search anyone whom they reasonably suspect has stolen something, or otherwise unlawfully obtained or anything used in an indictable offence.
Being sniffed by a police drug dog is not a ‘search’.
A ‘reasonable suspicion’ involves less than a belief but more than a mere possibility. There must be some factual basis for the suspicion; reasonable suspicion is not arbitrary. Hearsay material can be used as the basis for a reasonable suspicion.
A police officer has the power to stop and search a motor vehicle if:
- He/she believes on reasonable grounds that the vehicle is being or may have been used in the commission of an indictable or firearms offence;
- If the police officer believes on reasonable grounds that the vehicle contains drugs or anything used or intended to be used in the commission of such an offence;
- If the police officer believes on reasonable grounds that there is a serious risk to the public safety and the search might lessen that risk.
If you have a questions about a police matter, call Brazel Moore Lawyers on (02) 4324 7699.