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Police Powers

Police powers under the Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA)

The Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) gives broad powers to the police and other people to investigate offences under the Act including the power to:

  • enter premises at any time;
  • if necessary, break into or open the premises or anything in or on them (police only);
  • require the driver of a vehicle, master of a vessel or pilot of an aircraft to stop;
  • inspect and search premises and anything in or on the premises;
  • require any person to produce books, papers, documents, equipment, substances or devices;
  • take samples of any substances or goods;
  • seize and remove anything that might be evidence of an offence under the Act.

See Part 7 Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA).

Warrant required to enter premises

Before a premises can be entered or broken into a warrant must be obtained from an approved police officer, justice of the peace or special magistrate, who must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence against the Act has been, is being, or is about to be, committed and that a warrant is reasonably required in the circumstances [ see further s 52(4) Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA)].

General police powers

General police powers to search and enter are authorised by the Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) and remain unaltered by the Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) , see arrest and questioning. Generally, a person must be arrested before she or he can be searched [ Summary Offences Act 1953 (SA) s 81]. However, police may search people withoutarresting them if the police have a reasonable belief that they are in possession of any substance or equipment in contravention of the Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA). A person can insist on being taken before a magistrate to have the search authorised but as there is no obligation on a police officer to inform the person of this right it is rarely invoked. As a consequence, street searches for pipes and cannabis are common.

Drug detection dogs and electronic drug detection devices

Police can use drug detection dogs (or ‘sniffer’ dogs) or electronic drug detection systems in certain areas including:

  • Licensed premises or car parks provided for patrons of licensed premises;
  • Public venues or car parks provided for patrons of public venues;
  • Public passenger carriers including: buses, trams, trains and aircraft.
Police Powers  :  Last Revised: Tue Apr 2nd 2019
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.