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Detaining Persons for Investigation and Questioning

Detaining persons for investigation and questioning (see sections 403–412 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000)

A police officer may detain a person for a reasonable time to investigate, or question the person about:

(i) if the person is in custody following an arrest for an indictable offence, the offence for which the person was arrested; or

(ii) in any case, any indictable offence the person is suspected of having committed, whether or not the offence for which the person is in custody.

However, the person must not be detained for more than eight hours, unless the detention period is extended (see s. 405: ‘Application for extension of detention period’ and s. 406: 'When detention period may be extended' of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000).

During the eight hour detention period:

(i) the person may be questioned for not more than four hours; and

(ii) the time out may be more than four hours.

The detention period starts when the person is:

(i) arrested for the indictable offence;

(ii) taken into police custody under a removal order;

(iii) taken from a watchhouse; or

(iv) otherwise in the company of a police officer at a watchhouse, prison, or detention centre, for the purpose of questioning the person.

The following must be taken into consideration when deciding what is a reasonable time to detain a person for investigation or questioning:

(i) whether the person's detention is necessary for the investigation of an indictable offence;

(ii) the number of indictable offences under investigation;

(iii) the seriousness and complexity of an indictable offence under investigation;

(iv) whether the person has indicated a willingness to make a statement or to answer questions;

(v) the person's age, physical capacity and condition, and mental capacity and condition;

(vi) for a person arrested – any time spent questioning the person before the arrest; and

(vii) the need to delay or suspend questioning of the person for time out purposes.

If the person decides not to answer questions or not to continue answering questions, continuing the detention period may not be reasonable unless:

(i) it is necessary to carry out further investigations; or

(ii) the person consents, or another authority requires the person, to participate in an investigative procedure (for example, the person consents to taking part in an identification parade; or a magistrate orders a medical examination involving the person).

If a person is detained for questioning more than once in any period of 24 hours and questioned for a total of more than four hours in the 24 hours, you must not continue to question the person, unless the detention period is extended under s. 406 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000.

Last updated 01/07/2009