The technicality is, as already stated, that the act only provides the power to search to the extent that is required for the purpose for which the power of entry is exercised. Once the officer had established that there was no risk to life or limb on the property, why did he search through my personal documents? I would like to know if this invalidates the entry, constitutes an illegal search or opens the officer involved up to a charge of operating outside of his permitted powers. Also I would like to know if the police are legally obliged to provide any documentation to the homeowner in these circumstances. If the are, they failed to provide the correct paperwork to me.
Your "No" is regarding which of my queries? The question mark suggests that you are asking me if the police have any other powers of search. I'm afraid I don't know. Do you have any suggestions as to which other powers of search they might have invoked? According to the documentation they left me, Section 17 was the only power used. My losses are, not only the physical damage caused to my property and earnings from time off work to secure the property but also the right to the secure enjoyment of my home as outlined in article 8 of the 1988 HRA from the ECHR.
The search took place in my absence. It was triggered by either a hoax call or miscommunication between the emergency services. It had nothing to do with me personally. The search was to establish whether there was a risk to life or limb on the property. This was the sole reason for the search. The only power invoked for this search was section 17 of the 1984 criminal evidence act, which explicitly limits the scope of the search to what is reasonably required for the purpose for which the entry is exercised. The officer involved operated outside of this remit when, after having established that the property was empty, he searched through personal effects. So, back to my original question, was this a technicality which could open the officer or force involved up to legal action against them? I have, obviously, researched section 17 myself and am now seeking a legal opinion as to whether or not the powers have been violated. I fail to see how any losses I may or may not have suffered have any bearing on the legality (or illegality) of the search.
What triggered the action is irrelevant. That the police invoked section 17 is irrelevant. I understand that this act allows for this search in these circumstances and that the forced entry was legal. I accept that the police were legally entitled and obliged to search the property to establish whether or not there was a risk to life or limb.The issue for me, and the question for which I am seeking an answer, is whether the search of personal effects, which clearly falls outside of what is "reasonably required for the purpose for which the power of entry is exercised" constitutes a contravention of powers.
So, does the fact that "there would not seem to be a justification that I can see immediately" mean that, potentially, I could have grounds to take legal action against the police? Are you saying that, even though unjustified, I would not have the slightest hope of a successful action? Are you suggesting that you need more information before you can answer my question? If so, what information do you require? Or are you unable to provide me with an answer?
Thankyou for that. My final question for you. What do you suggest I do to move this forward? Do you suggest that I make an appointment with a solicitor or do you have an alternative suggestion of how to proceed?