Police and Crime
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III. Police powers

As an ordinary citizen, it is possible that you might be stopped, questioned and even searched by the police while you are walking on the street. You may have questions as to why the police would do this to you, or under what circumstances the police can exercise such powers.

This section contains some general information about police powers in the following areas:

  • stopping and questioning a person;
  • searching a person;
  • entering private premises, searching and seizing items inside;
  • arresting a person; and
  • detaining a person at a police station and taking statements.
  1. Under what circumstances can the police stop and question me in a public place? Must I answer their questions?
  2. Under what circumstances can the police stop and search me in a public area?
  3. What are the consequences if I refuse to cooperate with the police when they are exercising their powers to stop, question or search me?
  4. If I don't want to be searched in public by the police, what can I do?
  5. Under what circumstances can the police enter and search my home or office? Must the police obtain a "search warrant" before taking such action? What would be the consequences if I refuse their entry? Can the police seize anything inside my flat?
  6. Under what circumstances can the police arrest me? Must they obtain a warrant of arrest beforehand?
  7. What are my rights if I am being arrested?
  8. If the police merely ask me to go to a police station to assist with their investigation, am I obliged to go? Can they detain me inside the station?
  9. If I have been arrested and detained at the police station, is there a maximum period of detention? Under what circumstances can the police detain me for a longer period?
  10. If I am detained by the police in the police station and am asked to make a statement, what are my rights? Must I answer every question raised by the police during the interview?
  11. If the police fail to comply with any of the rules governing the procedures relating to questioning, searching, arresting, detaining persons or the seizing of articles, what are the possible consequences?
  12. If I am detained by the police in the police station, how can I find a lawyer? Can I obtain free legal services at this stage if I cannot afford a private lawyer?
  13. If I am detained in the police station and I want to be released, what should I do?
  14. If I have been ill-treated by the police, how can I lodge a complaint against the police?
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