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Powers of arrest

To arrest you the police need reasonable grounds to suspect you're involved in a crime.

The police can arrest you because:

  • you're suspected of committing a crime, and the police want to question you about it
  • they have enough evidence to charge you with the crime
  • they have an arrest warrant – for example because you didn't show up to court or you broke your community sentence conditions
  • you broke conditions of a civil interdict (a court order that stops you doing certain things) with a power to arrest

The police have powers to arrest you anywhere and at any time, including on the street, at home or at work.

The police arrest procedure

If you're arrested the police must:

  • identify themselves as the police, especially if they are not in uniform
  • tell you that you're being arrested
  • tell you the crime they think you've committed
  • explain why it's necessary to arrest you
  • tell you that you don't need to say anything other than giving your name, address, date and place of birth and nationality

The police have powers to search you when you're arrested.

Police powers to use reasonable force

If you try to escape or become violent, the police can use 'reasonable force' – such as holding you down so you can't run away or handcuffing you.

Police complaints

You can complain about your treatment by the police.

If you need further information on your rights, or you're unsure of how the law affects you or someone you know, you can contact:

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