8th October 2020
Search Warrants. The Law Commission has recommended reforms that it says will reduce the number of unlawful search warrants being issued, and to assist in the collection of evidence and investigation of crime.
Currently, a police officer or other investigator applies to a magistrate or a judge for a search warrant. If granted, a warrant grants legal authority to enter premises and search for specified material.
The Law Commission says that the laws governing search warrants are unnecessarily complicated, inconsistent, outdated and inefficient.
Around 40,000 search warrants are issued every year. In 2016 review by the National Crime Agency found that 78.73% of investigations had defective warrants. Of that number, 8.2% had significant deficiencies.
The Society of Editors has criticised the recommendation that the government review rules on search warrants for obtaining journalistic material.
Although the Law Commission concluded that confidential journalistic material should only be obtained in very limited circumstances, it added that the government should consider whether the law struck the right balance between the competing interests at play and whether the law ought to be reformed.
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides special protection for journalistic material, and the Society of Editors argues that the law around police seizure of journalistic material needs strengthening rather than watering down. This is argued on the basis that journalists need to have confidence that their material remains protected so that they can guarantee source protection in fulfilling a public interest role.
If a search warrant is unlawfully executed, it does not automatically mean that any evidence obtained cannot be used. We can advise you as to the options and make the necessary applications to the court on your behalf. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please call 0113 2440597 or email email@example.com and let us help.
[Image credit: “Day 255 – West Midlands Police – Searching using torch (Part of an officers Personal Protective Equipment Kit.” by West Midlands Police is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]