Power of arrest

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The power of arrest is a mandate given by a central authority that allows an individual to remove a criminal's (or suspected criminal's) liberty. The power of arrest can also be used to protect a person, or persons from harm or to protect damage to property.

Arrest usually leads to the person being subject to police custody or the custody of another government authority. In many countries, the power of arrest has now been extended to not only the Police, but to other law enforcement agencies such as Immigration, Customs & Excise and authorised Bailiffs, etc.

However, in many countries, a person also has powers of arrest under citizen's arrest or any person arrest powers.

Individuals with powers of arrest[edit]

Originally, powers of arrest were confined to sheriffs in England for a local area. Over the past few hundred years, the legal power of arrest has gradually expanded to include a large number of people/officials, the majority of which have come to the fore more recently. These various individuals all may utilise similar or different powers of arrest, but generally adhere to one particular field.

The individuals below have been listed in order of when the power of arrest became available to the individual, starting from the earliest.

United Kingdom[edit]

England & Wales[edit]

The following individuals all have various powers of arrest or detention within England & Wales in various capacities using the following legislation/law:

Police Constables

National Crime Agency (formerly SOCA) officer (N.B. can possess powers of immigration, customs and excise and Police constable simultaneously)

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)

Members of public ("Other persons" i.e. anyone who is not a constable)

UK Border Agency

Service Police (RMP/RAFP/RNP)

Prison officers

Court bailiff

Court officer

Sheriff (Sheriffs Act 1887)

Serjeant at Arms of the House of Commons
Officer or agent Companies Clauses Consolidation Act 1845

Epping Forest Keepers (park rangers)

Environment Agency officer

Water bailiff

IPCC investigators

United States[edit]

In the United States, various law enforcement officers are able to legally arrest citizens. Due to the complexity of the American civil legal system, including the interactions between federal, state, county, and local jurisdictions, there are numerous special cases that apply, depending on the reason for the arrest.