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Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, Section 31 is up to date with all changes known to be in force on or before 18 January 2017. There are changes that may be brought into force at a future date. Changes that have been made appear in the content and are referenced with annotations.
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(1)Where any property has come into the possession of the police in connection with their investigation of a suspected offence, a court of summary jurisdiction, on an application under this subsection, may—
(a)make an order for the delivery of the property to the person appearing to the court to be the owner of the property; or
(b)where the owner cannot be ascertained, make such order with respect to the property as the court thinks fit.
(2)An application under subsection (1) in relation to any property may be made—
(a)by a member of the police force; or
(b)by a person claiming an interest in the property.
(3)An order under subsection (1) does not affect the right of any person to take, within 6 months from the date of the order, legal proceedings against any person in possession of property delivered by virtue of the order for the recovery of the property; but, on the expiration of that period, the right shall cease.
(4)The [F1Department of Justice] may make regulations for the disposal of property which has come into the possession of the police (whether as mentioned in subsection (1) or otherwise), in cases where—
(a)the owner of the property has not been ascertained; and
(b)no order of a competent court has been made with respect to the property.
(5)Regulations under subsection (4) may—
(a)authorise the sale of property;
(b)authorise the application of any money which has come into the possession of the police as mentioned in that subsection and the proceeds of any such sale as is mentioned in paragraph (a)—
(i)to defray expenses incurred under the regulations;
(ii)to pay reasonable compensation to persons by whom property has been delivered to the police; and
(iii)for such other purposes as may be specified in or determined under the regulations;
(c)provide that where, in the case of property other than money—
(i)the property has remained in the possession of the police for at least a year;
(ii)the police would under the regulations have power to sell the property;
(iii)in the opinion of the [F2Board], the property can be used for police purposes; and
(iv)[F3the Board] determines, in such manner as may be prescribed by the regulations, that the property is to be retained by,
the [F2Board] is to become the owner of the property on the making of the determination or at such later time as the regulations may specify;
(d)in relation to property which is in the possession of the police by virtue of Article 11 of the M1Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1994, make (subject to subsection (6)) provision for disposal (including disposal by vesting in the [F2Board]) in cases where no application under subsection (1) by a claimant of the property has been made within 6 months from the date on which the order was made or no such application has succeeded;
(e)provide for the publication of determinations under paragraph (c)(iv).
(6)Regulations under subsection (4) may not provide for the vesting in the [F2Board] of property in relation to which an order has been made under Article 12 of the M2Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1994.
(7)Except as provided by subsection (8), property shall not be sold unless it has remained in the possession of the police for at least a year.
(8)Property may be sold at any time if—
(a)the property is perishable; or
(b)custody of the property would involve unreasonable expense or inconvenience,
but the proceeds of sale shall not be disposed of unless they have remained in the possession of the police for at least a year.
(9)Where property is in the possession of the police by virtue of Article 11 of the M3Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 1994—
(a)no application shall be made under subsection (1) by any claimant after the expiration of 6 months from the date on which the order in respect of the property was made under that Article;
(b)no such application shall succeed unless the claimant satisfies the court either—
(i)that he had not consented to the offender having possession of the property; or
(ii)where an order is made under paragraph (1)(a) of that Article, that he did not know, and had no reason to suspect, that the property was likely to be used for the purpose mentioned in that sub-paragraph.
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