Citizen's arrests (FOI)
Citizen's arrests (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 01 October 2020.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
What is the procedure for a member of the Public when executing the arrest of a Police Officer suspected of breaking the law?
Once the arrest has been made how should a member of the Public detain the Police Officer? Should the States of Jersey Police be contacted upon arrest or is there an independent agency which handles this specific types of arrest?
How does the Member of the Public proceed with investigations to establish the guilt and/or innocence of the Police Officer? Does the member of the Public get oversight in investigations conducted by the States of Jersey Police and/or the independent agency responsible for investigating criminal activity by Police Officers?
Does the offence of resisting a lawful arrest apply in such situations, should the Police Officer refuse to come quietly?
What safeguards are in place to protect a Member of the Public making such an arrest and ensuring that the matter is properly dealt with and investigated by the States of Jersey Police, considering that the person arrested is a colleague?
Are there any other matters of import which Members of the Public should consider when executing the arrest of a Police Officer?
The power to arrest an individual is given to police only, under Article 16(2) of:
The Police Force Jersey Law 2012
16 Duties and powers of police officers
(1) A police officer must, to the best of his or her ability –
(a) cause the peace to be kept and preserved;
(b) prevent offences, whether under customary or statutory law, against persons and property; and
(c) take such lawful measures as are appropriate to bring offenders to justice with due speed.
(2) A police officer may arrest a person the police officer has reasonable cause to suspect has committed, is committing or is about to commit, an offence.
Honorary police are given similar powers under Article 3 of the:
Honorary police (Jersey) Law 1974
The power for police to use reasonable force to arrest an individual is given by Article 109 of:
The Police Procedures and Criminal Evidence (Jersey) Law 2003.
109 Power of police officer to use reasonable force
Where any provision of this Law confers a power on a police officer and does not provide that the power may only be exercised with the consent of some person, other than a police officer, the officer may use reasonable force, if necessary, in the exercise of the power.
The common law power to perform a citizen’s arrest only covers the detention of another when a person is ‘committing or about to commit an indictable offence’. It is not permitted retrospectively, when he/she ‘has committed an offence’. This is a preventative measure, allowing an individual to intervene only when an incident is or is about to occur and is aimed at stopping immediate violence towards an individual or property.
(An indictable offence is one which can be tried at the Royal Court or Crown Court in the UK, so no arresting people for parking on a yellow line or dropping litter.)
The legal protection for the use of reasonable force by a police officer is not given to members of the public performing a citizen’s arrest. It is therefore advised that the use of the common law power of citizen’s arrest is only used when it is required to prevent or stop physical harm to another or serious damage to property. It cannot be used retrospectively for offences committed in the past. In all cases, it is recommended that the police are called and allowed to deal with the issue prior to intervention, if possible.
Should anybody other than a police officer use force to detain any individual, they leave themselves open to an allegation of assault and may find themselves subject to criminal proceedings.
Complaints about police officers
Should an individual have evidence of criminal activity or a general complaint about the behaviour of a police officer, they should make their complaint in writing to the Chief Officer of police.
The matter will be investigated initially by the Professional Standards Department unless the complaint concerns a senior officer. In these circumstances, the Minister may engage the services of an independent UK police force to investigate the matter.
Policing in the UK and Channel islands is with the consent of the public. Police are given legal powers to arrest and detain those who have committed, are about to commit or are committing an offence. It is accepted that these powers are intrusive to the lives of others and are therefore entrusted to those sworn officers of the crown only.
Members of the public should not attempt to take the law into their own hands as to do so, could see them fall foul of existing legislation and common law.