Regina (Rottman) v Commisioner of Police of the Metropolis

They suspected that the computers on the premises might contain evidence of the fraudulent activities of the defendant. A Detective Sergeant made the decision to exercise his authority under PACE, s. 18(5). The police seized property including computers on the premises. The defendant challenged the seizure and admission of the evidence that was not within the scope of the 1984 Act.

Procedural history: the case had initially been heard in the Queens Bench Divisional Court where Lord Justice Brooke found it impossible to interpret part II of the 1984 Act to accommodate the power of the common law. He made reference to the case R v Governor of Pentonville Prison, Ex p. Osman [1990] 1 WLR 277 where Lord Justice Lloyd had found that under section 6 of the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967 a warrant of arrest in domestic proceedings was not different to a provisional warrant. In the House of Lords, Lord Hutton acknowledged that the Divisional Court had determined that power under the common law to search and seize evidence following an arrest had been eliminated by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984. He said that the relevant provisions in the Act did not extend to extradition offenses.

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Ratio of the Case: The ration of the defendant is ‘the 1984 Act did not completely replace the common law authority of the police in collecting evidence’. Since the defendant was arrested outside his front door, the police had no power under section 17 to proceed to enter and search the premises. Section 18 under which the police officer acted did not cover extradition crimes but were limited to domestic offenses while the common law powers remained for international offences. Section 19 did not give the officers the authority to collect and seize evidence from the premises while they were not investigating a crime committed within their jurisdiction.

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