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Understanding and Navigating An Arrest Without Warrant (Citizen's Arrest) and the use of Handcuffs

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

The concept of an arrest without warrant, (citizen's arrest) is not unfamiliar, but its implications and execution might be less clear. In the UK, a citizen's arrest, also known as an arrest without warrant, occurs when a member of the public or security personnel, not acting as a law-enforcement officer, apprehends a suspect and detains them until the official Police intervention. Such an arrest becomes essential when an individual poses a threat through violent or aggressive behaviour that compromises their own safety or that of others around them.


While anyone can carry out an arrest without warrant, (citizen's arrest), adhering to specific guidelines is crucial to prevent legal consequences. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Section 24A stipulates that an individual including any member of the general public, security officers and guards can make an arrest when suspecting someone of committing a indictable offence. *Please Note* that if you are an employed security personnel and have been placed on a particular site by your employment provider to protect any business, it is very important that you follow and work within the guidelines and policies as set out by your employment provider and the policies of the sites/ businesses where you have been stationed, as they may prefer for you not to perform a citizen's arrest or use handcuffs, this may even apply if you have undertaken the appropriate training and accretion. Not adhering to all policies and protocols will conflict with the policies of the businesses you protect, this could also include your employment providers policies. Disciplinary action or legal proceedings may being taken against you by both organisation or even the suspect if you do not adhere to company policies and protocols.


Offences where an arrest without warrant, (citizen's arrest) are typically used include serious crimes like, assault, high value theft, burglary, robbery, murder, possession of an offensive weapons, terrorism or criminal damage exceeding £5000 in value. Summary offenses, such as minor assaults or road traffic violations, do not warrant a citizen's arrest.


It's important to understand that the use of reasonable force is permissible during an arrest without warrant, (citizen's arrest). The Criminal Law Act 1967 Section 3 validates using reasonable force to prevent crime or assist in the lawful arrest of offenders. However, 'reasonable force' remains subjective, dependent on individual circumstances. Using force that is necessary and proportionate to the threat is vital as force exceeding this limit could lead to prosecution for assault.


Executing an arrest without warrant, (citizen's arrest) involves a series of steps. Firstly, ensure you've witnessed a crime first hand or are sure that a crime is about to take place. Also consider the presence of professionals who could perform the arrest. Assess the situations safety and gather as much evidence as possible using, your Body Worn Video/ Audio Camera or mobile phone, whilst also communicating your intention to the suspect is extremely important which should include informing the suspect that they are being recorded on CCTV and why they are being recorded. You could say something like, "You are under arrest using section 24A of the police and criminal evidence act, you are being recorded on CCTV for the purpose of the collection of evidence and the safety of you, me and the general public". Contact the Police immediately after securing the situation. Remember, you are not authorised to question or search the suspect unless you gain the suspects expressed informed consent, it is good practice to have captured this on your CCTV recording device. Always prioritise your safety and the safety of everyone else around including the safety of the suspect.


Whilst handcuffs are not legally regulated in the UK, proper training in handcuff usage is strongly recommended. Seeking certified training in conflict management, physical intervention, and adhering to your companies guidelines and protocols are essential. Remember, the ultimate priority is your safety, and if situations become risky, calling 999 and letting the Police and professionals handle the arrest is the best course of action.

In the context of ensuring security for your business, Catch a Thief UK - CAT UK SECURITY offers a range of products and services to protect your assets from criminals. Our advanced technologies, like our Facial Recognition system and bespoke guarding services, provide cutting-edge solutions to deter theft and violence in your businesses. Moreover, we can direct and provide you with the relevant accreted training service providers that can provide bespoke training in conflict management, physical intervention and handcuff training. Training will equip your team to handle the most challenging situations, safely and effectively. With a commitment to security and safety, Catch a Thief UK - CAT UK SECURITY stands as a reliable partner in safeguarding your businesses. We will keep your businesses, staff, customers and assets safe from the hands of violent criminals working within the law.


While anyone can carry out a arrest without warrant, (citizen's arrest) adhering to specific guidelines is crucial to prevent legal consequences. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Section 24A stipulates that an individual can make an arrest when suspecting someone of committing an recordable offence. These offences typically include serious crimes like assault, high value theft, burglary, murder, terrorism, or criminal damage exceeding £5000 in value. Summary offences, such as minor assaults or road traffic violations, do not warrant a citizen's arrest.


It's important to understand that the use of reasonable force is permissible during an arrest without warrant. The Criminal Law Act 1967 Section 3 validates using reasonable force to prevent crime or assist in the lawful arrest of offenders. However, 'reasonable force' remains subjective, dependent on individual circumstances. Using force that is necessary and proportionate to the threat is vital, as force exceeding this limit could lead to prosecution for assault or even false imprisonment.


Executing an arrest without warrant, (citizen's arrest) involves a series of steps. Firstly, ensure you've witnessed a crime first hand or suspect that a crime may happen also considering the presence of professionals who could perform the arrest. Assess the situation's safety, gather evidence using your Body Worn Video Recording device or other CCTV recording devices, remembering to inform the suspect why they are being detained and that they are being recorded on CCTV, also remember to gain the suspects expressed informed consent before conducting any kind of search of their person or belongings such as a handbag, jacket or pockets, it is also vital that you have captured their consent on your electronic recording device before preforming this task . If possible try and gather wittiness statements from staff and members of the public who may of been present when the incident took place, documenting everything according to the policies and protocols set out by the business and your employment provider. Contact the Police immediately after securing the situation. Remember, you are not authorised to question or search the suspect unless you have gained the suspects, expressed informed consent, it is also extremely important that you capture the consent on your Body Worn Video Camera or other electronic recording devices, whilst always prioritising your safety and the safety others throughout.


While handcuffs are not legally regulated in the UK, proper training in handcuff usage is strongly recommended. Seeking certified training in conflict management, physical intervention, and adhering to your companies guidelines and protocols is essential. Remember, the ultimate priority is your safety, and if situations become risky, calling 999 imminently and letting the Police and other professionals handle the arrest is the best course of action.


In the context of ensuring security for your business, Catch a Thief UK - CAT UK SECURITY offers a range of products and services to protect assets from criminals. Our advanced technologies, like our Facial Recognition system, Body Worn Video cameras and guarding services, provides you with cutting-edge solutions to deter theft and violence in your businesses. Moreover, our training service providers in conflict management and physical intervention will equip your team to handle the most challenging situations safely and effectively. With a commitment to security and safety, Catch a Thief UK - CAT UK SECURITY stands as a reliable partner in safeguarding your business.


Disclaimer: This blog article does not substitute legal advice. Always consult legal professionals for specific guidance.

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