When is a search warrant actually required?
Generally, the police can enter and search any premises (public or private) without a warrant, if they have reason to believe that a person to be arrested is inside the premises. Otherwise, in respect of private premises, police have no general power to enter without the consent of the owner or occupant. If police officers simply request the owner / occupant to consent to their entry into private premises, the owner / occupant may choose to refuse. However, if the police officers (1) produce a warrant issued by a Magistrate (which can be a search warrant or an arrest warrant), or (2) demand that the owner / occupant open the door on the grounds that they reasonably believe a person to be arrested is inside the premises, then the police are empowered to enter the premises, and the owner / occupant must cooperate. Otherwise, the owner / occupant may be guilty of the offence of resisting or obstructing the police officers in the due execution of their duties. In these circumstances, police officers are allowed to break open the door for their entry.