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Armed Forces Act 2001

Section 12: Property in possession of service police or commanding officer

48.This section allows the Secretary of State to make regulations dealing with the disposal of property which has been acquired by the Service police during the investigation of an offence. A number of Acts contain provision for the disposal of property which has come into the hands of the civilian police in such circumstances. Of these, section 1 of the Police (Property) Act 1897 gives magistrates a wide power to make orders for the disposal of property. Section 12 of this Act enables a regime for such disposals to be set up in relation to cases within the Services’ disciplinary systems. In particular, regulations under section 12 may enable a Service court or judicial officer either to order the return of property to the person appearing to be the owner or, if the owner cannot be found, to order its disposal as they see fit. The regulations may also allow the commanding officer to determine to whom the property is delivered, and make provision for appeals against decisions. They may also establish time limits after which a decision on disposal by a Service court or judicial officer could not be challenged in civil proceedings. Similar provision applies under section 1(2) of the Police (Property) Act 1897. Such limits may not, however, be applied where a decision on disposal is made by a commanding officer. Any decision by the commanding officer is without prejudice to the right of an individual to challenge a decision before the courts.

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