Police and Public Encounters

At Cheshire Constabulary we make a point of being transparent and accountable to the public we serve. We also provide the public of Cheshire with the opportunity to get involved and have their say. There are lots of ways that you can do this.

Here are some links to information about some commonly used powers and some other powers that can have a significant impact on members of the public:

Section 12 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2002 states that if a Police Officer reasonably believes that a person is, or has been, consuming alcohol in a designated public place or intends to consume alcohol in such a place, the Officer may require the person concerned to surrender any alcohol in their possession.

Where young people under the age of 18 are consuming alcohol, Section 1 of the Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997 states that if a Police Officer, reasonably suspects that a person in a relevant place is in possession of alcohol and that they are under the age of 18, the Officer may require the person concerned to surrender alcohol in their possession.

In both cases, an Officer may dispose of anything surrendered to them in such a manner that they think fit.

Under the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, Police officers have the power to seize tobacco from young people under 16 and to dispose of that tobacco.

Under the Police Reform Act 2002, Police Community Support Officers may also have the power to confiscate alcohol and tobacco, under circumstances as defined by the Chief Constable.

New recording processes have been introduced in relation to the use of this power. We will be able to present this information to you soon.

Arrest data is published in the What Our Priorities Are and How We Are Doing section of our website.

Section 35 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 gives a Police Constable and a Police Community Support Officer in uniform the power to exclude a person from an area for a period of up to 48 hours with an Inspector’s authority.

In addition to the Inspector’s authority the officer must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the behaviour of the person in the locality has contributed to or is likely to contribute to:

  • Members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed, or
  • The occurrence in the locality of crime or disorder, and
  • That the PC or PCSO considers that giving a direction to the person is necessary for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of the above.

The direction given by a PC or PCSO in uniform:

  • Must be given in writing, unless that is not reasonably practicable.
  • Must specify the area to which it relates.
  • May impose requirements as to the time by which the person must leave the area and the manner in which the person must do so (including the route)
  • The officer must (unless it is not reasonably practicable) tell the person to whom the direction is given that failing without reasonable excuse to comply with it is an offence.

Section 35 dispersal power can be used by police officers and designated PCSOs to deal with individuals aged 10 or over engaging in anti-social behaviour or crime and disorder not only when they have occurred or are occurring, but when they are likely to occur and in any locality. A child aged under 16 can be removed to their home address or a place of safety.

It applies to any behaviour, not just alcohol-related crime and disorder, and does not require the pre-designation of a dispersal zone.

The key difference is that the new power requires the authority of an officer of the rank of Inspector or above before a person can be given direction to leave the locality.

The authorising officer must record the authorisation in writing, specify the grounds on which it is made and sign the authorisation. Practically, this can be recorded electronically on a local system.

The person being directed to leave must be given a written notice.

When can the power be used?

There are two conditions to use the dispersal power when authorised by an Inspector or above:

The officer must have reasonable grounds to suspect that the behaviour of the person has contributed to, or is likely to contribute to:

  • Members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed or;
  • Crime and disorder in the locality


  • The officer considers the direction to leave necessary for removing or reducing the likelihood of crime, disorder or ASB

What information should be on the notice?

The notice must be given unless it's not reasonably practicable to do so. It should specify:

  • Name, address and date of birth of the person being directed to leave.
  • The time the direction is given.
  • The terms of the direction including details of the area from which they are excluded and the exclusion period (up to 48 hours from the time of issue).

The police have a right and a duty to stop and talk to members of the public and in certain circumstances to search them. This is done in order to help keep the public safe, and is used to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, and to prevent terrorism. Further details about Stop and Search is available in the links below.

Your rights - Stop and Search

Stop and Search Scrutiny

Effective and fair use of Stop and Search powers

Stop and Search and Disproportionality

The Police use of Force is regulated by the following pieces of legislation;

Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 sets out the occasions on which reasonable force can be used by any person when making an arrest or in the prevention of crime.

3(1) A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large.

Section 117 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides that a constable can use reasonable force in the exercise of any power under this Act.

117 Where any provision of this Act -

(a) confers a power on a constable; and

(b) 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.

Whenever the use of force is necessary, both the general public and members of the police service expect police forces to:

  • respect and protect human life, and minimise damage and injury
  • exercise restraint in such use and ensure that their responses are proportionate and necessary in the circumstances and consistent with the legitimate objective to be achieved
  • ensure that assistance and aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest practicable opportunity.

As well as Sec.3 Criminal Law Act, Common Law and Sec.117 PACE, the police must comply with European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), and in particular


Common Law

Common Law recognises that there may be circumstances in which one person may inflict violence on another, without committing a crime. It recognises as one of these circumstances, the right of a person to protect himself /herself from attack and to act in defence of others and if necessary to inflict violence on another in doing so. If no more force is used than is reasonable to repel the attack, such force is not unlawful. If you have an honestly held belief that you or another, are in imminent danger, then you may use such force as is reasonable and necessary to avert that danger.



Details on the deployment of taser are published in the What Our Priorities Are and How We Are Doing section of our website.


Criteria for the deployment of Armed Officers

The deployment of armed officers should only be authorised in the following circumstances:

  • where the officer authorising the deployment has reason to suppose that officers may have to protect themselves or others from a person who:
    • is in possession of, or has immediate access to, a firearm or other potentially lethal weapon, or
    • is otherwise so dangerous that the deployment of armed officers is considered to be appropriate, or
  • as an operational contingency in a specific operation (based on the threat assessment), or
  • for the destruction of animals which are dangerous or are suffering unnecessarily.

Reason to suppose

Use of the words 'reason to suppose' sets the level of knowledge required (about the existence of a threat justifying the deployment of AFOs) at a far lower level than that which would actually justify the use of firearms.

Destruction of animals

The destruction of an animal is a duty which may fall to the police service if:

  • the animal represents a danger to lives or property; or
  • if the animal is in such a condition that it must be destroyed to avoid unnecessary suffering, and no veterinary surgeon or licensed slaughterer is available to perform the task or they are otherwise unable to do so.