Can the police enter your garden without permission?

Yes, under certain circumstances, the police can enter your garden without explicit permission.

Generally, all visitors, including the police, have an ‘implied right of access’ to approach your main door via an unlocked gate. This right is based on the common law principle that visitors are allowed to walk up to your front door to knock or ring the bell. If you do not want someone to remain on your property, you can simply ask them to leave. If they refuse, without legal powers to remain, they are considered trespassers.

If the police have come to make an arrest for an indictable offence, serve a warrant, rescue life or limb, or otherwise exercise a power of entry as specified under Section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), they do not need your permission to access or remain on your property. These powers also allow the police to recapture someone unlawfully at large and to make an arrest under section 4 of the Public Order Act 1986 , among other reasons.

It is crucial to distinguish between these powers of entry and other types of police visits, such as giving ‘words of advice’ or issuing a warning. These do not grant the police an automatic right to remain on your property if you ask them to leave.