The Act has two key sections, 110 and 111, which aim to standardise a constable's power of arrest. What this means in practice is that all offences will have a power of arrest, subject to certain conditions.
Section 110 of SOCAP replaces the existing S.24 and S.25 PACE. It means that the existing phrase "arrestable offence" will become obsolete. It means you can arrest for any indictable offence. If the offence is summary, then there's a "necessity test" to be applied. This is very similar to the existing S.25 PACE conditions, with three important differences:
- You will no longer be able to arrest someone just because they have an address which is unsuitable for the service of summons
- You can arrest if it's necessary to allow for the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or suspected offender
- You can arrest if you think the suspected offender is likely to 'disappear' and thus hinder the investigation
Section 111 of SOCAP repeals power of arrest for all the offences in Schedule 1A of PACE. This is the Schedule which gives us a power of arrest for offences like disqual driving, assault on police, and TWOC. The theory being that under the the revised S.24 PACE you don't need to specify certain summary offences as being arrestable.
There are a number of other bits of this Section which modify PACE to replace the term "arrestable offence" with "indictable offence" throughout. One side effect of this is that your powers of entry under Sections 17, 18 and 32 of PACE are removed for summary offences, such as:
- Disqual driving
- Fail to stop after injury accident
- Assault on police
Or... you attend the home address of the registered keeper for a car involved in a non-stop injury accident. The bloke comes out and admits being the owner of the car. You nick him but you have no power of entry under S.32 (search following arrest) because this is a summary offence. So you can't go in and search for the car keys (for example).
Or... the same driver is seen wearing a red tracksuit, when you nick him he's wearing jeans and a t-shirt, he denies being the driver or even owning a red tracksuit. You would not be able to get a S.18 authorisation to go search his house for the offending tracksuit
In summary (if you'll excuse the pun!), these are major changes to the law affecting not just our powers of arrest but also related everyday powers such as powers of entry. You can read about the above in much more detail in the excellent Centrex digest (accessible here - password is 'digest' password '999').