ACT police have broad powers but these are limited by legal safeguards to protect the rights of citizens. Police powers include the power to arrest and detain a person in certain circumstances, the power to carry out a search and to seize items and the power to take fingerprints and DNA evidence in certain situations. When exercising these powers, police must follow procedures set out in the Crimes Act 1900.
Police also have the power to invite a suspect to participate in an interview about the alleged offending. However, police must inform the suspect that they do not have to participate and that anything they say can be used as evidence against them. Police are not allowed to question a person when they are sick, injured, intoxicated or do not understnad their rights. They are not allowed to proceed with an interview after a suspect has said they do not want to be interviewed.
If police act in a way that goes beyond the powers conferred on them by legislation, they may be acting unlawfully. This may mean that the evidence that they obtain, while acting improperly, is deemed to be inadmissible in any proceedings that result from the investigation. This section of the site contains information about police powers.