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Criminal & traffic law

Entry powers: When the police can come into your home

Coming to your front door with implied permission

Police can come on to your section and knock on your door

Case: [2012] 1 NZLR 145 (SC)

The police – or anyone else – can come onto your section or property, through your gate or other entrance, and walk up to the front door of your house or flat and knock on the door (so long as they’re there for legitimate business – for example, if the police want to talk to you as part of an investigation). This is because the law assumes that homeowners and tenants implicitly give permission for people to do this (in legal terms, the police and other people have an “implied licence” to do this).

But this is only a very limited right – it only allows the police to be there up to the point of knocking on your door. If they don’t get a response from anyone inside, the police must then leave the property.

The police can ask you if they can come inside, and it’s then up to you to decide whether you agree to this or not. If you do let them in, you can ask them to leave at any time. For example, if they come in and ask you a few questions, you can stop this at any point and ask them to leave. They then have to leave immediately.

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Police powers

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New Zealand Law Society

The Law Society has helpful information on your rights when dealing with the police.

Website: www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-the-public/common-legal-issues/you-and-the-police

Independent Police Conduct Authority

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Website: www.ipca.govt.nz
Email: info@ipca.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 503 728

To make a complaint online: complaints.ipca.govt.nz/195

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Email: legalaidprovider@justice.govt.nz
Phone: 04 918 8800

For more information: www.justice.govt.nz/about/lawyers-and-service-providers/legal-aid-lawyers/pdla

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