Search Legislation

Policing and Crime Act 2009

Section 63 Power to search vehicles

322.Chapter 3 of Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) is concerned with the recovery of cash in summary proceedings. Section 294 of POCA enables a customs officer, a constable or an accredited financial investigator to seize cash if he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that the cash is recoverable property (property obtained through unlawful conduct) or intended for use in unlawful conduct. The cash must not be less than the “minimum amount” which is defined at section 303. It is currently set at £1000 (see The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Recovery of Cash in Summary Proceedings: Minimum Amount) Order 2006 (SI 2006 No. 1699)).

323.In order to support the powers to seize cash, section 289 of POCA provides a power to search persons and premises for cash. The power to search premises is only exercisable where the officer has lawful authority to be present under other legislation or is present with the occupier’s or owner’s permission. In respect of a constable, he could be exercising his powers of entry under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Section 289 of POCA does not include a power to forcibly enter premises or to demand entry from the owner or occupier.

324.The definition of “premises” for this search power includes “vehicle” – see section 316 of POCA read with section 23 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. An officer therefore has no power to force entry into a vehicle. Section 63 inserts provisions into section 289 of POCA so that an officer can require the search of a vehicle if he has reasonable grounds for suspecting there is cash in the vehicle which is recoverable property or intended for use in unlawful conduct and that it is not less than the minimum amount. The power to search can only be exercised where there is an identifiable person in control of the vehicle and that person (the suspect) is in or in the vicinity of the vehicle.

325.The new provision does not contain a power to force entry into a vehicle; rather, new section 289(1D) provides that the officer can require the person accompanying the vehicle to permit entry and allow a search of that vehicle.

326.New section 289(1C) provides that the power is not exercisable where the vehicle is on certain categories of private property.

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