Police powers

The police have a wide range of powers that they use as part of their work to stop crime and protect law-abiding people.

The powers police use are set out under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), which was designed to balance the powers of the police with the rights and freedoms of the general public.

The PACE codes of practice set out police powers, including custody and stop and search. You can find out more about these codes on the archived Home Office website (new window).

Special constable powers

Specials are volunteer police officers, and they, too, have full police powers.

Community support officer powers

Community support officers (CSOs) work alongside police officers. They have fewer powers than police officers and specials. They have the power to issue fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour, for example, but not to conduct a stop and search.

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