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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Search and seizure warrants
Section 352: Search and seizure warrants

511.Powers to issue warrants previously derived from the powers in section 93I of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, section 56 of the Drug Trafficking Act 1994 and Article 51 of the Proceeds of Crime (Northern Ireland) Order 1996. They differ from warrants under Part II of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) or Part III of Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 [SI 1989 No.1341 (NI 12)] in that they permit the seizure of special procedure material (defined at section 14 of PACE). These warrants also differ from those issued under Schedule 1 to PACE (which also permit the seizure of special procedure material) in that applications may be made without notice to the person whose premises are to be searched. Except where different provision is made in the Act, the general provisions in Part II of PACE about search warrants apply to search warrants issued under this section.

512.As in section 345, an application for a warrant may be made by an appropriate officer as set out in section 378. Subsection (5) provides for a constable to execute the warrant if it is sought in relation to a confiscation or money laundering investigation, and for a named member of staff of ARA if the warrant is sought in relation to a civil recovery investigation. The name of the member of staff can be a pseudonym if the Director so directs (section 449). A warrant may be issued either if a production order has been made and not complied with and there are reasonable grounds for believing that the material specified in the warrant is on the premises, or the requirements of section 353 are met (subsection (6)).

Section 353: Requirements where production order not available

513.Subsection (1)(b) refers to two sets of conditions for issuing a warrant in the absence of a production order. The first set of conditions (subsections (3) and (4)) might be satisfied, for example, where the person who owns the material is abroad and therefore it is not possible to communicate with that person. In such circumstances, it is clear that a production order in respect of that person would have no effect. The second set of conditions (subsections (5) to (9) might be satisfied where it is impossible to describe the material (for the purposes of a production order) and access will not be gained without a warrant (e.g. to the residence of the suspect).

Section 355: Further provisions: confiscation and money laundering

514.This section makes provision for the application by subordinate legislation (subject to the negative resolution procedure) of certain provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (or its Northern Ireland equivalent) concerning search warrants to search warrants under the Act where they are sought in relation to confiscation or money laundering investigations.

Section 356: Further provisions: civil recovery

515.This section sets out provisions regarding when and how a warrant issued by the High Court for the purposes of a civil recovery investigation may be exercised. Subsection (3) gives power for the High Court judge to make the warrant subject to such conditions as he thinks fit. Where a member of staff of ARA executes a search warrant, he will have no automatic right to use reasonable force (in contrast to the position where a constable or customs officer executes a search warrant). Subsection (7) gives a High Court judge power to authorise the member of staff of ARA to use reasonable force if he thinks it necessary to make the warrant effective.

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