Can the police enter your home?
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The police have a right to enter your property under certain circumstances but they must always do so lawfully. They can enter your home with your permission and, if there are sufficient grounds, they can also apply to obtain a warrant to search the property with or without your permission.
If they have neither a warrant nor permission they can only enter your home under certain circumstances. These can include dealing with a breach of the peace, recapturing someone who has escaped from custody or entering a property in order to save life or prevent a serious injury.
Entering with your consent
The police can enter your home with your consent. If they intend to search your home the officer in charge should state the purpose of the proposed search, inform you that you are not obliged to consent and that anything seized may be used in evidence, according to Liberty. For a search to be lawful you should give this consent in writing. If you live in rented property your landlord cannot usually give consent for police to search the property. Police can only enter and search a rented property based on the landlord's consent if the tenant is not available and the matter is urgent.
Entering with a warrant
If the police wish to search your property with or without your consent they must usually apply for a warrant. A warrant can be issued if Magistrates consider there to be sufficient grounds, according to FindLaw. These may include circumstances where there is believed to be material evidence on the premises that is likely to aid a criminal investigation. According to Citizens Advice the police must arrive at a reasonable hour unless it would hinder their search to do so and, under most circumstances, seek permission to enter. They are allowed to force entry if the occupier has refused them permission to enter or they have reasonable grounds for believing that if they do not force entry it would hinder the search or that someone would be placed in danger.
Entering under other circumstances
Police are allowed to enter your home without consent or a search warrant if they are seeking to save life or prevent serious injury or serious damage to property, according to Citizens Advice. They can also enter to deal with or prevent a breach of the peace, to enforce an arrest warrant and to recapture someone who has escaped from custody. If your are arrested police have the right to enter and search any premises that you were in during or immediately before the arrest but they must have grounds to believe there is evidence there. They can also search any premises occupied by someone who is under arrest for certain serious offences, according to Citizens Advice.
Seizure of property
When conducting a lawful search the police have the right to seize property if they believe it is stolen or has otherwise been obtained by the commission of an offence, according to Liberty. They can also seize property that is believed to be evidence relating to an offence. Property should only be removed if it is deemed necessary in order to prevent it being concealed, lost, damaged, altered or destroyed.
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