Police clarify authority to make arrests without warrants

The Commissioner of Police has clarified misconceptions about the authority of the Police Officers to make an arrest without an arrest warrant. 

In an interview with the Samoa Observer last week the Police Commissioner, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, clarified the Police has the authority to make an arrest without an arrest warrant. 

“They can make an arrest without an arrest warrant and that authority is afforded to the police under the rule of law," said Fuiavaili’ili.

“We don’t go around arresting people because we can. There has to be probable cause to make the arrest as indicated under the law."

The Commissioner was speaking in response to recent queries raised by members of the public on social media following certain high-profile arrest cases. 

He further told the Samoa Observer the Police can also attain an arrest warrant to make an arrest: "There are certain cases where we have asked the court for an arrest warrant and that solid evidence has to be presented." 

“We can make a valid arrest without a warrant and an arrest with a warrant." 

He further noted that court can rule whether the arrest was legitimate or not. 

“These authorities are vested within the authority of the Police and the same practice is being used in other parts of the World, like New Zealand, Australia, Europe and America.”

According to the Criminal Procedures Act, the Police can arrest and take into custody without a warrant when they finds committing, or whom the constable has good cause to suspect of having committed, an offence. 

The law further says the police can arrest someone commit an offence under the Police Offences Ordinance 1961 or the Road Traffic Ordinance 1960, and who either; fails to give his or her name and address on demand; or after being warned by the constable to desist, persists in committing that offence; or a person whom the constable -finds committing, or has good cause to suspect of having committed, a breach of the peace; or finds in any public place, and has good cause to think is drunk. 

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