GUEST BLOG: Arthur Taylor – Know your rights with Police



  • Always keep a clear head;
  • Stay polite;
  • Call the police officer Sir or Madam;
  • Do not swear or insult the officer;
  • Although your legal rights are important, being cheeky or smart when being searched will usually not be in your best interests;
  • Do not try to stop, or resist an officer if he or she has the authority to search you. You can get arrested for obstruction if you try to prevent the search.

Questions to ask:

1. “Am I under arrest?”
If they say “Yes”, do not run away or resist.
If they say “No”, you are free to leave and if you choose to do so, you can politely tell the police officer you’re leaving because you are not under arrest.

2. “Sir/Madam, I do not agree to being searched, can you please tell me the lawful authority for searching me?

”If you don’t agree to being searched, let the police officer know you do not consent.
Make sure you write down exactly what the officer says, or, if possible, get a friend to be a witness.

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What search rights do I have under the Bill of Rights Act?

  • Everyone has the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under s21 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
  • If you feel harassed or improperly searched and you want to make a formal complaint, you should contact YouthLaw or your local community law centre or a lawyer.
  • If you’re hurt or ill as a result of an unreasonable search, you should ask to see a doctor straight away. If you have any marks or bruising, get a friend to take colour photographs of them and ask a doctor to note down your injuries.

What happens if the police searched me unreasonably or illegally?

If the police didn’t follow the right process in searching you, you can make a complaint about the illegal search.

Also, you should tell your lawyer if you have been charged for a crime linked to the evidence found in the search. The judge may decide to leave out that particular item from evidence in court if the evidence was obtained illegally.

Arthur Taylor is a former prisoner and The Daily Blog’s Prisoner Rights blogger 


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