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How to Recover property from the police

This information was last updated: 17 April 2015



You are always entitled to your property back as long as it is not an exhibit, illegal or evidence in a case against you. The common problem is when are you entitled to get it back.

Property retained by the Police

Property which is taken from you at the police station and retained by the police could be analysed or used as evidence in the case.

If your property is confiscated it is usually held at the police station where you were arrested. Once the officer in charge of the case feels that your property is no longer needed, an officer should inform you that your property is ready for collection. However this does not always happen. Therefore it is very important that you always make a note of the following:

1. Name of officer in your case
2. Your custody number when you were at the police station
3. The date you were arrested and the property was taken from you

The above information will make it easier for you to secure the release of your property.

It is the officer in the case who has to release your property; this is usually done in the form of an e mail to the property office at the police station giving consent for your property to be returned to you.

You can either attempt to get in contact with the officer in your case or alternatively contact the property office who then will email the officer in your case to see whether indeed your property can be released.

This is regardless of the fact that you may be in custody, if you are, you can request the property either to be collected by a family member who will need your written consent  or you can ask the officer in your case to send it directly to your prison. You should always remember there will be occasions if you have been arrested for an offence which involved other individuals that some of your property if deemed as evidence may still be retained if it is to be used as evidence in your co-defendants cases.

Property belonging to you usually comes in two categories:

1. Personal items such as your wallet or purse, etc. If the police deem that the property holds no evidential value to your case it will be returned to you when you leave the police station. No illegal substances will be returned to you.

2. Evidence such as phones, computers, ipads that need to be analysed, items of clothing or objects such as knives or something which could be construed as a weapon or item to help in committing an offence. Any of the latter may need to be forensically examined for DNA. Also large amounts of money found in your possession may be subject to an investigation.

When you will not be able to get your property back?

1. The property won’t be returned if the Officer in your case has not authorised its release.
2. Anything which is evidence or illegal.
3. The police will hold your property until all relevant matters have been dealt with and court proceedings or investigations have come to a conclusion.
4. Once the property is released you usually have 28 days in which to collect it.


If you run into difficulties with the process we are more than happy to provide assistance
Legal aid will not be available but we can advice you on our charges


The information provided in this How To: is general advice and information and Wilsons Solicitors LLP accepts no liability for its applicability to the facts of your individual circumstances.

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