Police Powers - Part 2 - Arrest

Police Powers - Part 2 - Arrest


Police Powers - Arrest

Police have a variety of powers to assist them carry out work in the community. These are generally set out in the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002. As a member of the community, you have certain rights and responsibilities when police stop to speak to you. Best rule of thumb is to stay calm and respectful – if you become aggressive or violent, things will probably get worse even if you have done nothing wrong in the first place.

Police may arrest you in the following types of circumstances:

  • You are committing an offence
  • You have or the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed an offence
  • You have breached your bail conditions
  • You are breaching the peace
  • There is a warrant issued for your arrest
  • The officer needs to serve an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) on you.

The officer must:

  • Tell you their name and place of duty
  • Tell you that you are under arrest
  • Tell you why you are being arrested
  • Give you a caution that you do not have to say or do anything but that if you do, it may be used in evidence against you.

If the officer does not do these things, the best thing to do is comply anyway and lodge a complaint later. Even if you think that you have not done anything wrong, it is best to submit to the arrest because it is an offence to resist arrest and if you become violent, you may also be charged with assaulting police. It is also a good idea not to answer any questions about the alleged offence until you have had the opportunity to speak to a solicitor. You should provide police with your name, address and date of birth if asked.

A police officer may use reasonable force to arrest you. Reasonable force depends on the circumstances. It is always best to comply and if you are concerned with the amount of force used, a complaint can be made later.


If you believe that you have been treated poorly or unfairly by police you are able to make a complaint in the following ways:

  • Informally, by contacting the officer in charge at the police station
  • By contacting the NSW Ombudsman
  • Writing to the customer assistance department of NSW Police.

It is best not to post complaints on social media.

If you would like more information or if we can help in anyway, contact Kingston Fox Lawyers.

This article is a summary of this topic and does not constitute legal advice. It is provided by way of information only. It is recommended that if you are charged with an offence that you seek legal advice.

Police Powers - Part 1

Police Powers - Part 1

Police Powers - Part 3 - At the police station

Police Powers - Part 3 - At the police station