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Police ‘unlawfully’ raid house party

first_imgPolice officers who entered a student house during a party last Saturday have been accused of acting unlawfully by a leading expert on drugs law. A team of eight officers was patrolling in Cowley at around midnight when their drugs sniffer dog indicated that it could smell a substance in the house. The officers then entered the house searching for drugs and formally searched one student. No drugs were found on guests or in any of the rooms. The sergeant in charge of the team said on Tuesday that “the team were given permission to enter the house along with the drugs dog.” However, the host of the party, a second-year student at St Hilda’s, said that she told the officers that they were not welcome to come in. She also said that she felt “victimized.” “He asked if he had permission to enter the house and I said no,” she said, “that’s pretty clear.” She says that police entered despite being asked not to. “I said no, but they came forward anyway,” she added. By law, police officers can only enter a home without a search warrant in very specific cases, such as if the property is controlled by an arrested person, or if somebody they wish to arrest is inside. In all other cases, the police are bound by Code B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, which requires consent to be gained in writing from the occupier of a residence “if practicable.” The student who held the party claims that she was not asked to provide any kind of written consent. She also says that she was not informed of the proposed extent of the search or warned that anything seized may be produced in evidence. These are both requirements under PACE Code B. The sergeant leading the search said that the dog indicated one of the party guests “was either carrying or had recently been carrying drugs”. However, when he was searched, nothing was found. The guest, an English student, denied that he had been near any substances. “I wasn’t carrying any drugs and I hadn’t been in contact with any that night or for a long time. I’m not quite sure why the dog made that suggestion,” he said. An expert on drug detection with dogs said that the search “appears to have been unlawful.” Amber Marks, a lecturer in law at King’s College London and expert in olfactory surveillance, said, “The fact that no cannabis was found shows how unreasonable it is for the police to rely on canine intelligence.” She continued, “The matter should be investigated and it sounds as if the occupier of the premises should make a formal complaint against the police. It is important to ensure that the police keep within the limits imposed upon them by the law. “This is one of the worst cases I’ve heard of.” The party’s host also questioned the efficacy of the drugs dog. “The dog jumped on [the guest who was searched] and he doesn’t even smoke at all. The dog clearly doesn’t have a clue,” she said. She also accused the police of heavy-handedness. “There were four to six of them. The ones at the back were trooping in but didn’t seem to know what they were doing. “It was ridiculous. One of the female officers said that they had so many people because they had to protect themselves. Do we look like junkies? They didn’t apologise for coming in.” The sergeant who led the search said he was satisfied that the premises were entered “lawfully and with consent.” A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said that “Police officers do have powers to further search and detain once in a property if they have reason to believe drugs are on the premises. In this case they did as the drugs dog made an indication that a person was, or had recently, been in possession of drugs. “We do take complaints about our service seriously and do have a proper process for dealing with them. If anyone was not satisfied with the police action on this evening they should contact Thames Valley Police Quality of Service Unit.” House searches: Your rights The rights of police to enter a private residence are governed by Code B of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Police can enter your house: – If they have a search warrant – If they wish to make an arrest – If you or another occupier has been arrested Otherwise, police may only enter with your consent. In this case, officers should, if practicable: – Inform you that you are not obliged to consent – Specify the proposed purpose and extent of the search, such as which parts of your house they intend to enter – Warn you that anything seized may be produced in evidence – Obtain your consent in writing Police are excepted from these rules in certain circumstances. If in doubt, you should comply with police and register a complaint at a later stage.last_img read more

Some students can return to university from 8th March

first_imgIn an email to students today, the university said: “The UK Government is expected to confirm arrangements for the end of the current national lockdown today (Monday 22 February), including plans for the return of students to universities. Once published, the University and colleges will urgently review the guidance and provide information for students about arrangements for Trinity term and about returning to Oxford. We expect to be in a position to write to all students by the end of this week (Friday 26 February). However, the University will not have prior sight of the guidance, and we appreciate your patience as we work through the details.” In a statement to the House of Commons today, the Prime Minister has announced that some university students will be able to return for in-person teaching on the 8th March, while others will have to wait until the end of the Easter holidays to find out when they can return. However, all other students will continue to work remotely for the time being. Options for a more general return to in-person teaching will be reviewed by the end of Easter: “The government will review, by the end of the Easter holidays, the options for timing of the return of remaining students. This review will take account of the latest data and will be a key part of the wider roadmap steps. Students and providers will be given a week’s notice ahead of any further return.” The guidance for higher education providers continues that: “Providers should not offer in-person teaching before then, or later if further guidance to this effect is issued, and should encourage students to remain at their current accommodation until the resumption of their in-person teaching, wherever possible.” The first stage of the government’s plan for exiting lockdown involves the reopening of all schools on the 8th March, and from the 29th March meetings of up to 6 individuals or two households will be allowed outdoors. Hospitality and non-essential retail should reopen on the 12th April as part of the second stage in the government’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions. This will include hairdressers, public buildings, indoor leisure, alcohol takeaways and beer gardens. The Prime Minister said that all the steps he outlined in his statement would be dependent on four tests, including the success of the vaccine rollout, the number of hospital admissions and deaths, the amount of pressure on the NHS and the impact of future mutations. The Prime Minister announced that the rule of six would be scrapped in May in outdoor settings in favour of a limit of thirty at gatherings. In indoor settings the maximum number of people in a group will remain six. Finally, in June the last restrictions should be lifted, with the final sectors of the economy, such as nightclubs, reopened. Students who are undertaking practical courses, or require specialist facilities for their degrees will be able to return from the 8th March. This will also apply to any course which requires onsite access. Higher education guidance released on today appears to confirm this: “In addition to the students who returned to in-person teaching and learning in January, providers can resume in-person teaching and learning for undergraduate and postgraduate students who are studying practical or practice-based (including creative arts) subjects and require specialist equipment and facilities from 8 March”. The definition of “practical” has not been provided. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street.last_img read more