Police have the power to search you as a person or your property at any time with your consent. Search warrants give Police the power to search for a certain thing or a certain person in a place or vehicle without your consent.
There are several different types of warrants but there are some common issues between each type of warrant that you should be aware of:
SEARCHING WITH A WARRANT
OBTAIN A COPY OF THE WARRANT
Before Police enter a place to conduct a search or as soon as possible thereafter, they must give you a copy of a warrant if there is one. Police must also identify themselves by giving you their name, rank and Police number.
CHECK THE WARRANT CONTAINS THE CORRECTION INFORMATION
The warrant must contain relevant information so that you can be sure what the search is for. This includes your full name and details, your address, the suspected offence to which the warrant relates, and the things that are liable to be seized. Police can only search a place or thing named in the warrant, which could include houses, vessels, vehicles or aircrafts. Police cannot search anything that is not named in it.
VIDEO RECORDING OF SEARCHES
It is now a requirement that search warrants are video recorded by Police. The Police must formally caution and advise a person of their right to remain silent throughout the search. This is an ongoing right, so even if the camera is switched on and off, a person is under no obligation to answer these questions.
Any footage of the search may be retained by the Police and could be used later in Court. If you are asked any questions, you should reply to all questions: “I do not wish to say anything, I wish to seek legal advice.”
OBTAIN A RECEIPT FOR SEIZED ITEMS
It is likely that Police will seize items during a search. If this is the case, a receipt must be provided to you. If documents are taken by Police, you should obtain the contact details of the Police Officer in charge of the Police section involved in the search and ask for copies of those.