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Return of Property seized by the police

Clients often ask us how they can go about having their property returned to them by the police.

The police seize property routinely in the course of investigations.  Property can be seized from you at the police station or through a search of premises. Those items will be retained by the police to be analysed or for a decision to be made about whether it will be used as evidence in the case.


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If your property has been seized during an investigation or proceedings before a court, you are entitled to recover it from the police as long as it is not an exhibit, or of an illegal nature (such as drugs). 

For a free initial consultation on your legal position and the available options, contact our local offices in LondonBirmingham or Manchester.

Once your case has finished and the officers have no further need for the items, they can be released to you.

Your property is normally held at the police station where you were arrested.

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If the officer in charge of the case is of the opinion that the items are no longer needed, they will not always inform you that they can be collected.  That is why having proactive solicitors is very important.  Sometimes, an application needs to be made to a court for an order that property be returned.

You should make a note of the following details in order to arrange the return of your items of property:

  1. The name of officer in your case,
  2. Your custody number,
  3. The date of your arrest,
  4. The date the property was taken from you.

This will make it easier to locate your property. You can call our dedicated Police station department on 020 7624 7771 to obtain these details.

How can we help?

Common questions

We always work with the most experienced and best leading UK barristers, KCs (Kings Counsel). We cover all criminal cases 24/7 at the police station and court. Offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester cover cases across England and Wales. We can offer Legal Aid and affordable Private fee agreements. We can see you the same day, including virtually. Our Senior Partners supervise all of our cases.

How quickly do you respond?

We respond quickly even during out of hours. We do not get our work by paying for online adverts but based on the fact that few criminal law firms can match our 45 years of experience. Most of our cases are still from word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients. We are called daily by dissatisfied clients from firms with less experience than us. We respond very quickly to new enquiries. We know what clients seek and so we update clients rapidly.

Can you get cases dropped?

Yes, read about the recent cases we've helped our clients with here.

We always keep you updated and give straightforward advice. We will get cases dropped early where the case is weak or should not be prosecuted. We will be upfront with you about where you can benefit from a good result with an early guilty plea, such as a discount on your sentence. As we work on cases across all levels with clients from all walks of life, we are excellent at giving clear, spot-on advice. As an established firm, we can allocate a whole team to your case often at short notice to secure evidence to minimise the damage to you. 

Have you won any awards?


"JD Spicer Zeb demonstrated a clear commitment to client service through their work with vulnerable and diverse individuals in what can be severely traumatic circumstances".

Do you offer free consultations?

Where it is possible, we aim to provide an initial consultation to you. If we can speak to you, we can if required inform you about  –

  • Whether we can take the case on and our relevant experience.
  • Public and private funding benefits.
  • Assistance in applying for legal aid where we are likely to accept instructions.
  • An outline of options in police interview only. We will not advise you on which option to adopt.
  • Providing our free written guide explaining the police station process.
  • The gravity of routine and day-to-day offences you face.
  • Consequences of not attending the court or police station.
  • Consequences of interfering with any witnesses.
  • Retaining any evidence in support of your case.
  • If possible an outline of the elements of the offence that the police or CPS must prove.
  • This consultation will normally be by telephone or email and will only be for as long as we deem necessary to establish if we can act for you. If we cannot usefully give you any advice in this manner then we will not continue with the consultation. We will not discuss the case in depth for you to be able to decide on your plea or any significant aspect of the case, as this cannot be undertaken informally.
  • Referring you, if possible, to other firms for matters out of our specialism or if we cannot help.

Consultations do not apply to the following cases –

  • If we do not intend to take the case on.
  • Road Traffic cases, drink driving, drug driving, driving bans, speeding, no insurance, mobile phone use, points etc.
  • In all cases where we do not have the capacity to take your case or the availability of suitably qualified staff to provide an initial free consultation. This is applicable in all cases but especially where a more senior lawyer is required because of your personal needs or the complexity of the case.
  • Harassment/stalking/ coercive behaviour/malicious communications or road traffic cases and most sensitive cases. These cases are often too complicated to assess in short consultations.
  • The locations concerned may be too distant to represent you adequately or it may not be cost-effective for you or us.
  • The case is too complicated to assess or raises various charges or facts, complexity, or history to be considered informally or in a short consultation.
  • In most Legal aid transfers where legal aid is granted to another firm except in very grave cases, we may assess the case and merits for a transfer.
  • If your relationship has broken down with your existing solicitor or several solicitors.
  • If you have been released under investigation and have already had a police station attendance. 
  • If you hold legal aid with another firm and seek a second opinion.
  • If you are calling on behalf of the client as a friend or family member unless you have full authority and full facts.
  • To businesses.
  • Advising whether you were given good advice by your other solicitor.
  • Whether to decide to plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Whether you have an arguable defence in law or factually complicated defences.
  • Any advice you have had after your first court appearance.
  • Any advice on appeal on conviction or sentence.
  • If we feel we are unable to communicate with you.
  • If we are likely to be conflicted or breach our professional rules.

Personal items such as your wallet or purse are more likely to be returned to you when you leave the police station as, usually, they will hold no evidential value.

Property such as phones, computers or, iPads that require analysis are likely to be retained as evidence. There are legal mechanisms by which the police can be required to provide you with a copy of what they have seized even before the case has concluded. That can be important if you are running a business and need your records.

Items of clothing or items which the police believe were used to help in committing an offence are also likely to be retained as evidence. Any large amounts of money found in your possession may also be subject to investigation and could be the subject of further proceedings even if the investigation in which it was originally seized has concluded.

The police must now consider releasing suspects on Pre Charge Bail where a case is ongoing.

The police must follow a set of rules by law. Read more about the recent Pre-Charge Bail law updates here

If you run into difficulties with the process we are more than happy to provide assistance.

Although this is not covered by Legal aid, we will be able to assist you on a private basis.

Please note that our costs may outweigh the value of your items, so we would generally advise that you contact the Police directly first. If the Police are not assisting you, you can make a complaint to a senior police officer, such as the Inspector for your local police station. You could also visit your local magistrates court and make an application for your property to be returned.

To complain about the police services, you can contact them directly or contact the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)

Please contact 020 7624 7771 and we can advise you of our charges.

How long can the police hold your property without charges?

In most cases, property seized by the police can be held up until a case has been resolved and the officers have no further need for the items. This is except for any items which are an exhibit, or of an illegal nature (such as drugs).

The return of property from the police cannot be made until it has been authorised for release by the officer in charge of the case.

How to get your property back from the police

Property that has been seized during an investigation will usually be held at the police station where you were arrested.

To ensure that you can recover property seized by the police, it is important to make a note of the following details:

  1. The name of officer in your case
  2. Your custody number
  3. The date of your arrest
  4. The date the property was taken from you.

When you are informed that your case has been resolved, you can then make an enquiry about the recovery of your items. Liaising with the officer handling your case will usually be the most effective way of recovering your property quickly and securely.

If you have been released under investigation, or on pre-charge bail, it may also be possible to make an application for the return of your property under Section 22 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Can you make an application for the return of property seized during criminal investigations?

As mentioned above, if you have been released under investigation, or on pre-charge bail, you will have the right to make an application for the return of your property from the police.

Section 22 of the Police and Criminal Act 1984 states that confiscated property cannot be held if a suitable photograph or copy can be made and would be sufficient for the purposes of being used as evidence or for examination in connection with an offence.

What happens if the police lose your property?

In certain situations, you may be able to ask the police for compensation if they have lost or damaged your property.

An application with details of the lost property, or damaged property, will need to be filed. Compensation is not automatically provided.

What if the police refuse to return your property?

If you are having difficulties in getting property back from the police, you may need to speak to a specialist criminal defence solicitor.

Our team will be able to review your case and advise you on the options available to you if your property has been seized by the police unlawfully.

Contact our criminal defence lawyers today

For a free initial consultation, urgent specialist advice or immediate representation with regard to the return of property seized by the police, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

You can contact our dedicated criminal defence lawyers in LondonBirmingham or Manchester by telephone on:

Or email: solicitors@jdspicer.co.uk

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

How can we help?

  • Umar Zeb
      • Umar Zeb
      • Senior Partner - Head of Private Client Crime
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  • Lisa Nicol
      • Lisa Nicol
      • Managing Partner - Head of Crime & Serious Cases
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  • Kirit Khushal
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  • James O'Donnell
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