As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, 'I'll be back': On the Beat column with Fishponds bweat manager Martin Hudd
SEARCH warrants are like busses, none come along for a while then in a short space of time there are a series of them. This has been the case during the past week at Fishponds police station where intelligence has led me to attend Bristol magistrates court and obtain several warrants.
The obtaining of a search warrant is not a particularly difficult task.
But to ensure you are successful there are a number of factors which must be considered.
A search warrant is a powerful piece of legislation that allows officers to enter a premise, using force if necessary and obtain evidence applicable to a certain offence.
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During that search, there are several types of warrant an officer can apply for.
However the most obvious ones are section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs act, which allows us to search for controlled drugs, and section 15 of the Theft act 1968 which allows us to search for stolen property.
There are of course other types of search warrants which cover other types of offences. To obtain a search warrant officers need to be in possession of intelligence or information which leads them to believe evidence of an offence or persons suspected of committing an offence are inside.
This has to be drafted onto a warrant application form giving specific details of the intelligence and information obtained.
It also has to include the address in question and its occupants.
This then needs to be scrutinised by an inspector who will endorse the application before it is presented to the court. The relevant court is then notified the day before an officer attends to obtain the warrant.
On the day the officer will stand before a magistrate, swear or affirm the oath and present verbally the information and intelligence obtained.
The officer must always be aware that at any time a magistrate can pose questions to them in relation to the application. And a court clerk is normally on hand to advise them on specific aspects of legislation.
After all entering a building and searching through personnel belongings can, in some peoples' eyes, be seen as a violation of their human rights.
So magistrates have to be sure that before a warrant is signed the application is justified.
Once magistrates are happy then the warrant is signed and the officer can then plan and prepare its execution.
After a search warrant has been executed the executing officer is expected to return all the relevant paperwork, endorsed to the courts and giving details of what if anything was found at the location.
Part of this warrant will also form part of the case preparation should the matter go to court.
There is a misconception amongst the criminal fraternity that once we have executed a warrant at a certain location then we will return.
However rest assured if the information and intelligence suggests otherwise like Arnold Schwarzenegger would say "I'll be back".