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6. Under what circumstances can the police enter and search my home or office? Must the police obtain a "search warrant" before taking such action? What would be the consequences if I refuse their entry? Can the police seize anything inside my flat?


Power of Entry and Search


The police can enter and search any premises with a warrant issued by a Magistrate. In order to obtain such a search warrant, the police must generally provide evidence on oath to the Magistrate to show that there is a reasonable cause to suspect that there is any article or document in any building or place which is likely to be of value to the investigation of any offence. Under the warrant, the police may break into the premises if necessary. While the search is being carried out, the police may also detain any person who may have such articles or documents in his possession or control in order to prevent any hindrance to the search (section 50(7) of the Police Force Ordinance).


The police can also enter and search any premises without a warrant , if they have reason to believe that a person to be arrested is inside the premises.


Otherwise the police have no general power to enter into private premises without the consent of the owner or occupant.


Consequences of Refusal


If you are simply asked by police officers for consent to allow them entry into your premises, you may choose to refuse. However, if the police officers produce a search warrant issued by a Magistrate, or demands that you open the door on the ground that they reasonably believe a person to be arrested is inside your premises, then you must cooperate. Otherwise, you may be guilty of the offence of resisting or obstructing the police officers in the due execution of their duties and they may also break open the door for their entry.


Power of Seizure


The police officers may be authorised under the search warrant to take possession of articles or documents inside the premises. Moreover, following the arrest of a person on the premises, the police officers may take possession of any item they find on the person or inside the premises which they reasonably suspect to be of value to the investigation of the suspected offence.