01482 778 463
Client Focussed
No Win No Fee
Specialist Legal Teams
Hudgell Solicitors™ | Latest News | Review of warrant system is welcome as too many are granted without required scrutiny and used as ‘fishing exercises’ by police

Review of warrant system is welcome as too many are granted without required scrutiny and used as ‘fishing exercises’ by police



Too often in my work have I seen cases where innocent people have found the police at their door with a warrant to search their properties when there was no justifiable reason for subjecting them to such personal intrusion.

A search warrant is a written order which gives police officers the authority to enter a building to search and seize material of a kind specified in the warrant.

They are in place to help police forces secure further evidence when there is already strong reason to suspect or believe something significant and relevant to their investigation will be found at the property searched.

However, increasingly in recent years I have come across situations where warrants have been applied for, and granted by judges, which have simply allowed them to go on ‘fishing exercises’ in the hope, not reasoned expectation, something will be found.

These have been situations where there hasn’t been any strong reasoning for the search taking place, and often see people already known to police forces, perhaps because they have previously been arrested or suspected of a specific type of crime, singled out with their properties searched through association, not evidence.

I have also seen cases in my work where the wrong kind of warrants have been used to search for other items, and have represented people who have had their homes or other properties searched simply because police forces did not complete simple checks before securing the warrant which would have confirmed they were at the wrong address, or targeting the wrong person.

This is simply wrong, and damaging to those who suffer as a result. It can cause huge amounts of stress and cause damage to reputations amongst friends, colleagues, family and neighbours.

This wrongful use of the warrant system has become too commonplace.

The Law Commission has highlighted the complicated current procedural nature of granting warrants – there are more than 175 different issuing statutory powers available to investigators when applying for a warrant – saying it has led to judges and magistrates sometimes perceiving issuing a warrant simply as a rubber-stamping exercise.

In one case which has been highlighted, investigations had to be dropped, at a cost of £7.5m to the taxpayer, after a pair of property tycoons successfully challenged the manner that the agency had obtained its search warrants.

It emerged that the issuing judge, in a 20-minute hearing, asked just one question about the street name.

Changes must bring clarity around seizing and searching of smartphones and tablets

Unless changes are made I fear we will only see overstretched police forces doing more ‘fishing’ and less following up of real hard evidence. Less evidence based policing, less investigating, more assumption and unfair targeting.

Applications for warrants must be prepared properly and then given sufficient scrutiny if basic human rights are to be protected.

With that in mind, I certainly agree with the Law Commission’s view that the current system for granting warrants needs reviewing, and that the public should be given greater protection given the frequent errors made.

There certainly also needs to be greater clarity over the rights of police forces to use warrants to search mobile phones, tablets and computers in the modern age, given these devises are now one of the first things many officers will be told to find and seize during property searches.

As Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC has said, warrants are a key part of police work and investigation and serve an important purpose, but the law always has to strike the balance between the powers of the state and the rights of individuals.

Currently, that balance is not maintained on too many occasions and damaging searches are being carried out which are unlawful themselves and certainly not necessary not proportionate to the evidence at hand.

The Law Commission review of the use of warrants was commissioned by the Home Office in December 2016. Consultation on proposals will run until September 5 before a final report is published.

It is something our civil liberties team at Hudgell Solicitors will be following closely.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

*Required

The Author

author image

Andrew Petherbridge

Head of Civil Liberties

ap@hudgellsolicitors.co.uk

Request a callback

Request A Callback

I am an existing client.










Or call us FREE on:

01482 778 463


trust pilottrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot star

The data you submit will only be used by Hudgell Solicitors and only for the purpose of dealing with your enquiry.
See full privacy policy.

Looking to see if you're eligible?

Get in touch for free legal advice

0808 159 7699

Call today to speak to an expert

OR
Start your claim

What Our Clients Think

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Caroline was great in handling my case

"Caroline was great in handling my case, very informative and always kept me up to… "

Mr Richard Brook

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Dispute with EasyJet

"Although Hudgell offices were not local to us, there was no need for concern, as… "

Glyn

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Always on the ball

"Always on the ball! Great at what they do, very professional and fast with a… "

CHRISTOPHER CURTIS

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Excellent service

"Excellent service. Very happy with result. Thank you."

Miss Erika Panakova

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Was an easy process and the caseworker…

"Was an easy process and the caseworker was very informative and very knowledgeable on my… "

Rachel Fee

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Lovely business to deal with

"Lovely business to deal with. Would recommend to anyone."

Mrs Kelly Byrnes

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Great communication

"Great communication! My solicitor was lovely to deal with, open and listened to me."

Sue Ockendon

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very happy with how they managed my…

"Very happy with how they managed my claim. I would recommend them."

Mr Steve Roberts

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very helpful and truly understanding in…

"Very helpful and truly understanding in a very sensitive case would highly recommend to anyone"

Miss Sarah Morris

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Friendly

"Friendly, supportive and professional, couldn't ask for more."

Mr Adrian Fisher

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

A first class service with a heart too

"I never had claimed before and was quite apprehensive about dealing with claims solicitors as… "

M Sheikh

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

They made me feel that I wouldn’t be on…

"They made me feel that I wouldn’t be on my own after my experience. They… "

Mrs Melinda Diane Tovey

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

The service was excellent and Lauren…

"The service was excellent and Lauren Cartwright kept me well informed and gave good advice… "

Mr Roger Harrison

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Recommended company

"Excellent service, fully recommended. Efficient communication and reliable."

Mr R Taylor

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Hudgell took over my road traffic case…

"Hudgell took over my road traffic case from a different solicitors and successfully negotiated a… "

Mr JSW

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Hudgell Solicitors made my personal…

"Hudgell Solicitors made my personal injury claim so easy, they got me the treatment i… "

Mr Nick Todd

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

I have never used solicitors before

"I have never used solicitors before, my dealings with Hudgell have been excellent I have… "

David Varley

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very helpful

"Very helpful"

Ethan Ferguson

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

First Class service

"Hudgell Solicitors are currently working on my case and I must say so far the… "

Emma Jeeves

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Always kept me up to date on all…

"Always kept me up to date on all correspondence concerning the case and acknowledged any… "

Mrs Anne Marie Wells

Rated 9.4 out of 10 based on 454 reviews

Powered by Trustpilot

Our offices

London

55 Fleet Street
EC4Y 1JU

VIEW DETAILS

Hull

No 2 @ The Dock
46 Humber Street
HU1 1TU

VIEW DETAILS

Leeds

10 Park Place
Leeds
LS1 2RU

VIEW DETAILS

© 2018 Hudgell Solicitors®. All Rights Reserved.

Hudgell Solicitors is a trading name of Neil Hudgell Limited | Director Dr. Neil Hudgell MA LLB (Hons) LLD | Registered in England No. 7078429 | Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority | SRA No. 521372 | VAT Registration No. 254 7802 90