1. Powers of Search and Entry
Powers of entry and associated powers (such as search and seizure) are important tools that facilitate the protection of the public from harm. These powers enable the effective investigation of offences. They also allow for the necessary enforcement of regulations. Powers of entry are intrusive in nature and may lead to a breach of human rights. They must therefore only be used after considering, proportionality, lawfulness, accountability and necessity. Powers of search and entry include:
- Power to search by warrant.
- Power to search without warrant.
- Power to stop and search.
- Power to search persons.
- Power to seize and detain things.
- Power to carry out search on arrest.
- Power to carry out search of person in lawful custody after arrest.
- Power to seize anything that may provide evidence of the commission of an offence.
- Power to use reasonable force against any person or anything in order to carry out a search.
- Power to set up road checks.
- Power to enter a place to inquire into or investigate a matter.
- Power to enter a place to serve a document.
2. Powers of Arrest and Detention
The right to liberty is a fundamental principle of human rights. The exercise of the power of arrest and detention is a significant interference with that right. Therefore, an arrest or detention must be lawful. An arrest or detention is lawful if it is made for the following reasons: safeguarding the public interest; ensuring the person appears in court; protecting the person’s own interests; keeping the peace; preventing crime; or protecting property. Powers or arrest and detention are usually defined by the law.
(a) Powers of arrest include:
- Power to arrest a person without warrant.
- Power to arrest a person named in a warrant.
- Power to arrest a person for a breach of the peace.
- Power to arrest a person suspected of committing a criminal offence.
- Power to arrest a person doing something that involves violence.
- Power of arrest to prevent a breach of peace.
- Power to arrest and disarm and armed person.
- Power to arrest an escapee.
- Power to arrest a person who is likely to continue or repeat an offence or commit another offence.
- Power to arrest a person who is likely to endanger himself or someone else’s safety.
- Power to arrest a person who is likely to interfere with witnesses, evidence or investigations.
- Power of arrest where there is no other lawful way of finding out a person’s identity.
(b) Powers to detain include:
- Power to detain and search a person or his property.
- Power to detain in order to investigate an offence.
- Power to detain a suspect in order to interview him.
- Power to detain a suspect in order to make a decision to charge.
- Power to detain a suspect in order to present him before a court of law.
- Power to detain a suspect on suspicion of committing a crime.
- Power to detain a suspect in order to take their fingerprints or collect any other biometric details.
- Power to detain adults for their own safety.
- Power to release a suspect on bail pending trial.
- Power to release a suspect if a decision not to charge him is made.
3. Powers of Investigation
The purpose of a criminal investigation is to find the truth. In conducting an investigation, law enforcers will generally seek to find and analyse information for the purposes of determining whether or not a crime has been committed. Investigations can result in finding both incriminating evidence and evidence that confirms innocence. As criminals seek to hide the criminal nature of their conduct, criminal law enforcement agencies need an appropriate range of investigative powers in order to obtain the necessary information. Investigation powers are defined by law and include:
- Power to gain access to any relevant information necessary for the investigation.
- Power to require people to produce records/accounts.
- Power to issue a written notice for a person to attend at a stated time and place, give information, answer questions and produce documents.
- Power to obtain third party information.
- Power to enter and search property.
- Power to seize physical evidence.
- Power to intercept mail and telecommunications.
- Power to search and seize digital and electronic evidence.
- Power to interview suspects, accused persons and witnesses.
- Power to conduct covert surveillance.
- Power to conduct undercover operations.
- Power to hold private and public examinations.
- Power to take fingerprints and other biometric information.
- Power to secure and process crime scenes.
Liability of Wildlife Law Enforcers on Official Duty
Law enforcers are generally not personally liable for any of their actions if they take such actions in good faith while executing their legal functions, powers and duties in accordance with procedures directed by law. However, when an officer acts in bad faith and outside the scope of his/her legal functions and duties resulting in direct or indirect harm to others, the officer may be held personally liable. The following are circumstances under which an officer may be held personally liable for his/her actions and subjected to civil or criminal proceedings:
1. Acting outside the law
Law enforcement officials shall at all times fulfil the duty imposed upon them by law. The officers’ priority should be to serve the community and protect all persons against illegal acts. Officers’ actions should always be consistent with the high degree of responsibility required by their profession.
2. Failing to uphold human rights
In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.
3. Using unnecessary force.
Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty.
4. Disclosing confidential information
Matters of a confidential nature in the possession of law enforcement officials shall be kept confidential unless the performance of duty or the needs of justice strictly require otherwise.
5. Inflicting cruel or degrading treatment or punishment.
No law enforcement official may inflict, instigate or tolerate any act of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Similarly, no law enforcement official may invoke superior orders as a justification of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Further, no law enforcement official may invoke exceptional circumstances such as a state of war, national insecurity, political instability or any other public emergency as a justification of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
6. Neglecting inmates.
Law enforcement officials shall ensure the full protection of the health of persons in their custody. Law enforcement officials shall take immediate action to secure medical attention for those in their custody whenever required.
7. Engaging in corruption.
Law enforcement officials shall not commit any act of corruption. They shall also rigorously oppose and combat corrupt acts.