Support to fill gap in cross-border arrest powers

18 Aug


Plans to plug a gap in provisions on cross-border powers of arrest have been backed by the Faculty.

Current legislation allows people suspected of an offence in one part of the UK to be arrested in another part. They can be detained without warrant by police from the jurisdiction where the offence was committed, or under warrant by local police.

However, there are no powers of arrest available in urgent investigations where an individual commits a serious offence in one jurisdiction, no arrest warrant has been issued and the person turns up unexpectedly in another UK jurisdiction.

The UK Government’s Policing and Crime Bill addresses the situation by giving local police powers of arrest.  It is intended that the powers will be used only in a small number of serious and urgent cases where it is not possible to wait until the person can be arrested under warrant or by police from the investigating jurisdiction.

Because aspects of the Bill have effect in Scotland, the Scottish Government has issued a Legislative Consent Memorandum, and has sought views on it.

In a Response, the Faculty said: “The Faculty agrees that it is appropriate for the gap identified to be addressed in the way proposed by the legislation. An urgent and serious investigation within the United Kingdom ought not to be compromised by the presence of a suspect in a jurisdiction different from that of the investigating force.”

Key to the proposed scheme was the method of defining the offences to which it applied, the Faculty added.

“Only indictable offences may be specified. The Faculty observes that many such offences exist in Scotland only at common law, which is not necessarily the case for England and Wales. It is anticipated that care will be taken to ensure that this be properly taken into account when specification comes to be made,” stated the Faculty.

Other aspects of the Bill covered by the Memorandum are police maritime powers, littering powers, and firearms licensing.