Serious Organised Crime And Police Act 2005
This article is a stub. Please feel free to expand it and make it more encyclopaedic.
There are a number of specific medical-related powers available to prevent illness or other harm, including:
- Mental Health Act 1983
- Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and associated regulations (such as the Port Health Regulations)
- Mental Capacity Act 2005
- Section 47 of the National Assistance Act 1948
In addition to these the police have general powers of arrest and detention.These are now included in the Serious Organised Crime And Police Act 2005, which came into force in 2006. This Act repealed the General Conditional powers of Arrest and introduced a test where for each offence an officer has to decide if it is necessary to arrest an offender. The conditions used to define "necessary" are contained in Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (and further expanded in the associated Code of Practice). They are shown below.
If a person were:
- highly infectious with, say a viral haemorrhagic fever (Ebola virus is a possility in late 2014) and
- refused to comply with a medical officer's surveillance order under the relevant Port Health Regulations (which would be a criminal offence, but not one for which the person could be detained - not by itself) AND
- the police officer believed that it was necessary to arrest the person in order to prevent them "causing physical injury to himself or any other person"
then the police officer could - in theory at least - arrest and detain the person. (In practice, how they would do this without putting themself at risk of infection is not clear.)
The wording of S24 of PACE 1984
(emphasis added by ganfyd):
24 Arrest without warrant: constables
- (1) A constable may arrest without a warrant—
- (a) anyone who is about to commit an offence;
- (b) anyone who is in the act of committing an offence;
- (c) anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to commit an offence;
- (d) anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an offence.
- (2) If a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed, he may arrest without a warrant anyone whom he has reasonable grounds to suspect of being guilty of it.
- (3) If an offence has been committed, a constable may arrest without a warrant—
- (a) anyone who is guilty of the offence;
- (b) anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it.
- (4) But the power of summary arrest conferred by subsection (1), (2) or (3) is exercisable only if the constable has reasonable grounds for believing that for any of the reasons mentioned in subsection (5) it is necessary to arrest the person in question.
- (5) The reasons are—
- (a) to enable the name of the person in question to be ascertained (in the case where the constable does not know, and cannot readily ascertain, the person's name, or has reasonable grounds for doubting whether a name given by the person as his name is his real name);
- (b) correspondingly as regards the person's address;
- (c) to prevent the person in question—
- (i) causing physical injury to himself or any other person;
- (ii) suffering physical injury;
- (iii) causing loss of or damage to property;
- (iv) committing an offence against public decency (subject to subsection (6)); or
- (v) causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway;
- (d) to protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question;
- (e) to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the person in question;
- (f) to prevent any prosecution for the offence from being hindered by the disappearance of the person in question.
- (6) Subsection (5)(c)(iv) applies only where members of the public going about their normal business cannot reasonably be expected to avoid the person in question.