Search Legislation

Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Section 135: Searching persons in police custody

378.This section will allow an immigration officer to search somebody who has been arrested for an offence under either Part III or Schedule 2 of the 1971 Act and is in custody at a police station (or, additionally, in the case of the former, in police detention at a place other than a police station). The arrested person may be searched at any time to see whether he has with him anything which he might use to cause physical injury to himself or others, to damage property, to interfere with evidence or to assist his escape. He may also be searched in Part III cases for anything the officer has reasonable grounds for believing is evidence relating to the offence or (in the case of Schedule 2) a document which might establish his identity, nationality or citizenship or indicate the place from which he has travelled to the United Kingdom or to which he is proposing to go. The intention is not to duplicate searches but to allow an immigration officer to carry out a search where he is the arresting officer.

379.This power of search may be exercised only to the extent considered necessary for the purpose of discovering such items, must be carried out by a person of the same sex as the person being searched and does not permit an “intimate search” (as defined by section 65 of PACE). If any items of the kind described are found they may be seized. The person from whom something is seized must be told why it is being taken unless he is violent, or appears likely to become violent, or is incapable of understanding what is said to him. Anything that is seized under these powers may be retained either by the police or by an immigration officer (depending on the nature of the item). However, an immigration officer may not retain anything seized under Schedule 2 powers for longer than is necessary or when the person from whom it was seized is either no longer in custody or has been released on bail.

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