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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Police Arrest Powers (Qld)


Queensland Police can arrest a person for a range of reasons in a range of situations. These arrest powers are contained in the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.

Arrest powers

Under section 365 of the Act, a police officer can arrest an adult if the officer reasonably suspects the person has committed or is committing an offence and arrest is reasonably necessary:

  • to prevent the continuation or repetition of an offence or commission of another offence;
  • to inquire to establish the person’s identity;
  • to ensure the person appears in court;
  • to obtain or preserve evidence of the offence;
  • to prevent the harassment of, or interference with, someone who may give evidence;
  • to prevent the fabrication of evidence;
  • to preserve the safety or welfare of any person;
  • to prevent a person from fleeing;
  • because of the nature or seriousness of the offence.

It is lawful for a police officer to arrest a person the officer reasonably suspects has committed or is committing an indictable offence, for the purpose of questioning them about the office, or investigating it.

A police officer can arrest a child without a warrant if the officer reasonably suspects the child is committing or has committed an offence.

A police officer can also arrest a person they reasonably suspect:

  • is escaping or has escaped from lawful custody;
  • has or is likely to breach a bail condition;
  • is directly or indirectly harassing or interfering with someone who may be required to give evidence about the person’s offence;
  • is likely to fail to appear in court;
  • is committing or has committed an extradition offence (an indictable offence against the law of another state),

Arrest with a warrant

A justice can issue an arrest warrant if they reasonably suspect a person has committed an offence and that person is otherwise unlikely to appear in court for the offence. The warrant must state the applicant police officer’s details, that any police officer can arrest the person named in the warrant, and the alleged offence.

Detention

An arrested person can be detained by police for a variety of reasons, including:

  • under a court order to provide a DNA sample;
  • to deal with a breach of the peace;
  • if the person is at a crime scene;
  • to carry out a blood alcohol test;
  • to prevent injury or domestic violence.

There are legislated limits to how long a person can be detained, depending on the circumstances.

Commonwealth offences

Under the Crimes Act 1914, a police officer can arrest a person if the officer reasonably believes:

  • a person has committed or is committing an offence;
  • a summons would not:
    • ensure the person appears in court;
    • prevent a repetition or continuation of an offence or commission of another offence;
    • prevent concealment, loss or destruction of evidence;
    • prevent harassment of, or interference with, a witness;
    • prevent fabrication of evidence;
    • preserve the safety or welfare of the person.
  • the person has escaped from lawful custody.

If the police officer arrests someone they believe to be a prisoner at large, they must take that person before a magistrate as soon as practicable. If the magistrate is satisfied the person is a prisoner at large, the magistrate can issue a warrant authorising police to return that person to prison.

A police officer can arrest a person they believe has breached or is about to breach a bail condition. The person must be brought before a magistrate as soon as practicable.

If an officer suspects a person has committed an indictable offence, the officer can enter a property, using reasonable force if necessary, to search the property for a person, any time of the day or night, and arrest that person, if the officer reasonably believes the person is there.

An arrest warrant can be issued by a magistrate or justice of the peace if the relevant information is supplied on oath and an affidavit has been supplied setting out the reasons the warrant is sought. In executing an arrest warrant, a police officer can enter a property, using reasonable force if necessary, to search the property for a person, any time of the day or night, and arrest that person, if the officer reasonably believes the person is there. However, unless it would not be practicable, or evidence would be placed at risk, an officer should not enter a premises to make an arrest between 9pm and 6am

Citizen’s arrest

The Criminal Code Act 1899 lists instances where a person other than a police officer may make an arrest without a warrant. These include when:

  • a police officer requests help to make an arrest;
  • a person is found committing an offence or is reasonably believed to have committed an offence;
  • a person is found fleeing authorities after committing an offence;
  • a person offers to sell, pawn or deliver stolen property;
  • a person on a plane has committed, is committing, or is about to commit, an offence affecting the use of the plane.

A person who has made a citizen’s arrest must immediately hand over the arrested person to police.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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