Admissibility Of Evidence Obtained In Breach Of Section 30 PACE

Article by Kabir Sondhi, pupil at 6 Kings Bench Walk


This article aims to explore the practical utility of the Court of Appeal's decision in the recent case of R v. King [2012] EWCA Crim 805 (Pitchford LJ, Cox J & Burnett J, dated 27th April 2012), in which the Court was asked to decide a novel point relating to the admissibility of evidence obtained in breach of the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

The appellant appealed on the ground, inter alia, that a covert recording of an incriminating conversation between himself and a co-accused - made after arrest but before conveyance to a police station - should have been excluded on the basis that it had been obtained in breach of the police's duty under section 30 PACE to convey the appellant to a police station as soon as practicable after arrest.

The Court, whilst denying the appeal, acknowledged that a deliberate breach of the duty under section 30 is capable of rendering inadmissible evidence obtained as a result of that breach. The Court held that, although the policy behind section 30 is to bring a suspect within the protection of PACE Code C as soon as practicable, the mere fact of a breach of section 30 does not place evidence obtained during that breach into a separate category where unfairness is presumed - the fairness of its admissibility depends on the factual circumstances in which it was obtained.

Legislative Provisions

Section 30 PACE sets out the following:

"(1) Subsection (1A) applies where a person is, at any place other than a police station -

(a) arrested by a constable for an offence, or

(b) taken into custody by a constable after being arrested for an offence by a person other than a constable.

(1A) The person must be taken by a constable to a police station as soon as practicable after the arrest.


(10) Nothing in subsection (1A) or in section 30A prevents a constable delaying taking a person to a police or releasing him on bail if the condition in subsection (10A) is satisfied.

(10A) The condition is that the presence of the person at a place (other than a police station) is necessary in order to carry out such investigations as it is reasonable to carry out immediately.

(11) Where there is any such delay the reasons for the delay must be recorded when the person first arrives at the police station or (as the case may be) is released on bail."


The appellant was convicted of various offences involving conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs (as well as related firearms and proceeds of crime offences) after a trial at Canterbury Crown Court. He was sentenced to a total of 18 years imprisonment.

Undercover police had begun to purchase drugs from a supplier (MN) but did not know the identity of the overall source, although they suspected it to be the appellant. A senior officer had issued a written policy decision stating that, should MN visit the travellers' site where the...

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