You Can Be Lawfully Arrested Without A Warrant

At common law, both ordinary citizens as well as police officers have the power to arrest, without a warrant, a person who has breached the peace or who is about to breach the peace. The power of the police to arrest without a warrant is amplified by statute. Thus, the police have a wider power to arrest a person without a warrant.

The House of Lords in Albert v Lavin [1981] 3 All ER 878 held ‘that every citizen, whether a police officer or not, in whose presence a breach of the peace was being, or reasonably appeared to be about to be, committed had the right to take reasonable steps to make the person who was breaking or threatening to break the peace refrain from doing so and that those reasonable steps in appropriate cases would include detaining him against his will’.

The Police Act Cap. 167 of the Laws of Barbados (‘The Act’) at sections 19(b) and 20(1) permits members of the Police Force to make arrests without warrants. The latter section also sets out the circumstances under which police officers may lawfully arrest persons without a warrant.  Listed below are examples of such circumstances. According to section 21 of the Act, a member of the Royal Barbados Police Force may lawfully arrest:

  • ‘any person whom he suspects upon reasonable grounds of having committed an arrestable offence’;
  • ‘any person who commits a breach of the peace in his presence’;
  • ‘any person who obstructs or assaults a member of the Force while in the execution of his duty or who has escaped or attempts to escape from lawful custody’;
  • ‘any person in whose possession anything is found which may reasonably be suspected to be stolen property or who may reasonably be suspected of having committed an offence with reference to such thing’;
  • ‘any person whom he finds lying or loitering in any highway, yard or other place between the hours of eight o’clock in the evening and five o’clock in the morning and not giving a satisfactory account of himself’;
  • ‘any person whom he has reasonable cause to suspect has committed any offence rendering him liable to arrest without warrant’.

It is therefore lawful for a citizen or police officer to arrest a person without a warrant, according to common law. Further, according to the Police Act, members of the police force may exercise their extended power to arrest persons without a warrant, where any of the circumstances provided by the Act are present.

                                                                                                                                             – Kara-Je Kellman