Q. I own a factory in Tongi and recently there have been quite a few raids in my office by the police. Thank you for giving me information about what search warrants constitute of and how my factory premises can still be searched even in the absence of a search warrant. This has indeed clarified a lot. You also mentioned that I should train my staff so that they are better equipped to dealing with situations like this. Can you provide more details on what exactly should be covered here?
Dear Reader, Thank you for writing in to us. With reference to the training that I mentioned in the earlier column, please note that it is always advisable to engage someone from a legal background to train your staff members and also to help prepare some handy guidelines as a quick reference point for your staff, should the need arise. Although all your staff members will benefit from the aforementioned training, it is worth noting that two staff members ought to be specially trained and receive special attention in this matter – your receptionist (he/ she will be the first point of contact) and your manager (he/ she will be in charge and delegated to take authoritative decisions on the spot). When the officers arrive, they should firstly identify themselves and produce either a search warrant or other evidence of due authority. to enter the premises. If the authorities attempt to show their search warrant or other evidence of due authority to enter the premises, the receptionist should show the authorities to a vacant meeting room away from reception and work areas and ask them to wait in this room while he/ she summons a person in authority. It could result in a criminal offence for you to not allow authorities into the premises. The receptionist should always be given a set of emergency contact numbers (comprising mainly of the Manager, the Owner and the Company’s Legal Representative).
It is worth remembering that the Authorities have the power to:
Enter premises without a warrant
Enter and search premises with a warrant.
Although it is usual for the Authorities to give at least two working days’ notice of an inspection, it is within the investigatory powers of the Authorities to arrive without prior notice. It is therefore essential that you are prepared for the Authorities inspections to occur without warning at any time. The Manager should politely ask the Authorities to identify themselves and to show their authorisation for conducting the inspection. The Authorities should also be asked to present identification (ID Cards or Police Badges) to confirm that they are the authorised officers referred to in the authorisation. Copies of the authorisation, the warrant (if applicable), identification of the Authorities and any other documents provided should be taken. The Authorities may not allow copies of their ID Cards or Badges to be taken for “security reasons”, in which case details of the cards should be noted down. In discussing matters with the Authorities, caution should be used as to what is said to the Authorities. For example, no admissions should be made as to any elements of the alleged contravention - anything said could be taken down and used in evidence. Also, care must be taken to ensure that comments are not likely to be taken out of context for the purpose of alleging that your company sought to impede the inspection. False reasons should not be given to the officers for any delay. They should simply be told that you want a supervisor or External Lawyer to check their authorisation and to oversee their execution of their authorisation. If the authorisation appears to be valid, the Authorities should be permitted to enter the premises to carry out their inspection according to the remit given in the authorisation and/or warrant. It is my guess that a systematic approach has not been used to deal with the raids at your office till now. I therefore advise that you quickly get in touch with a legal advisor, who will help and assist in training your staff in dealing with future raids with a methodical approach. This will also minimize the possibility of ‘harassment raids’ in the future.