You may recall an incident where a Sports Commentator, (Rex Mossop) undertook a citizen’s arrest of a man walking naked to a local beach.
The term “citizen’s arrest” carries with it a lot of folk law and myth. It is however a legitimate form of conduct which can be undertaken in certain circumstances.
The power to make a citizen’s arrest is set out in section 100 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW). The section reads as follows:-
A person (other than a police officer) may, without a warrant, arrest a person if:-
a. The person is in the act of committing an offence under any Act or statutory instrument; or
b. The person has just committed any such offence; or
c. The person has committed a serious indictable offence for which the person has not been tried. Pursuant to Sub-section 2, a person who arrests another person under this section must as soon as reasonably practical, take the person, and any property found on the person before an authorised officer to be dealt with according to law.
Notwithstanding this right to do so and perhaps notwithstanding a very strong urge to do so in certain circumstances, extreme care and caution must be exercised at all times. One needs to be careful about your own safety not knowing whether or not the person that you are trying to arrest is mentally stable or has a weapon. At the same time the power granted by this section also imposes on such a person an obligation to be able to determine whether or not the person misbehaving is in fact committing an offence. That is a decision which creates in some circumstances a need to be able to understand the law.
One must also exercise control over the manner in which the arrest in to be undertaken. Notwithstanding the misconduct of the person whom you wish to arrest, you still have a duty of care to only use reasonable force and to act appropriately. It is generally safer to call the police who have far greater powers and training in undertaking arrests.
If you have any queries in relation to a citizen’s arrest, or have been charged in a criminal matter, give us a call on 02 8917 8700 or fill out the enquiry box and we will get back to you ASAP!