Police Powers



Police Powers

Police Powers of Arrest

The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 outlines the powers that police have to make an arrest.

Arrest without warrant

It is lawful for a police officer to arrest an adult without a warrant, for questioning the person about the offence, or investigating the offence, if they reasonable suspect the adult has committed or is committing an offence if it is reasonably necessary for one or more of the following reasons.

  • to prevent the continuation or repetition of an offence or the commission of another offence;
  • to make inquiries to establish the person’s identity;
  • to ensure the person’s appearance before a court;
  • to obtain or preserve evidence relating to the offence;
  • to prevent the harassment of, or interference with, a person who may be required to give evidence relating to the offence;
  • to prevent the fabrication of evidence;
  • to preserve the safety or welfare of any person, including the person arrested;
  • to prevent a person fleeing from a police officer or the location of an offence;
  • because the offence is an offence against section 790 (offence to assault or obstruct a police officer) or 791  (Offence to contravene direction or requirement of police officer);
  • because the offence is an offence against the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989, section 80 (Breach of order or conditions);
  • because of the nature and seriousness of the offence;
  • because the offence is—
    • an offence against the Corrective Services Act 2006, section 135(4);(if corrective services officer believes that a person near a prisoner is acting in a way that poses a risk to the security of the prisoner or the security or good order of the place where prisoner is detained).
    • an offence to which the Corrective Services Act 2006, section 136 applies. (if a corrective services officer finds a person is about to commit or is committing a security offence)

Arrest under warrant

Section 369 makes it lawful for a police officer to arrest a person named in the warrant, if acting under a warrant.  Section 371 outlines the grounds which must be satisfied for a justice to issue an arrest warrant. These include reasonable grounds for suspecting that;

  • the person has committed the offence; and
  • for an offence other than an indictable offence the proceedings by way of notice to appear for the offence would be ineffective.

An arrest warrant must include the name of the applicant for the warrant and their rank, number and station, that any police officer may arrest the person named in the warrant and the offence that the person is alleged to have committed.

Discontinuation of Arrest

Section 376 outlines the general rule for when arrest may be discontinued. With the general rule being that it is the duty of a police officer to release the arrested person at the earliest reasonable opportunity if the person is no longer reasonably suspected of committing the offence for which they are arrested.

Duties after arrest- Information to be given to arrested person

Section 391 outlines the information that must be given to the person arrested after their arrest, including:

  • As soon as is reasonably practicable after the arrest, inform the person that the person is under arrest and of the nature of the offence for which the person is arrested.
  • Inform the person that the person is under arrest and of the nature of the warrant (if arrested under warrant).
  • Before the person is released from police custody, a police officer must give to the person, in writing, the name, rank and station of the arresting officer.

Alternatives to Arrest

Section 382 provides that a notice to appear may be issued for an offence. The object of this section is to provide an alternative way for a police officer to start or continue a proceeding against a person that reduces the need for custody associated with arrest.

Under section 382 a police officer may issue and serve a notice to appear on a person if the police officer reasonably believes the person has committed an offence.   Notices to appear are now the common method used to command a person to appear before a court.  They are generally hand sized pieces of paper that will tell you the court you need to go to, the date and time and the charges.

Office Location and Contact Details


Aitken Whyte Lawyers Brisbane
2/414 Upper Roma Street
Brisbane QLD 4000

Ph: 07 3229 4459
Fax: +617 3211 9311
E: enquiries@awbrisbanelawyers.com.au