Dawn Raid and Seizure Solicitors

Anti-trust and competition enforcement authorities are increasingly undertaking dawn raids to obtain evidence to support their investigations.

These searches are often being conducted at business premises, so business managers need to know how to respond. However, private residences and vehicles may also be searched.

If you’ve been affected by a dawn raid or a seizure, you will need to seek legal advice right away. A raid may signal the start of lengthy and invasive legal proceedings, potentially leading to financial sanctions and criminal prosecutions. Having an experienced legal team on your side is essential for minimising the impact of a raid and achieving the optimal outcome from the proceedings.

If the raid is targeted at a business, there is a risk of significant financial and reputational damage that can threaten the future of the company and the liberty of its employees.

When the police forcibly enter your premises unannounced it can understandably cause distress whatever the circumstances may be. Dawn raids often take place where the family of the suspect are sleeping, which can be a very frightening and upsetting experience, especially for young children.

Raids can also go wrong – because of a mistake or a mix-up. In this case, you will need legal assistance to deal with the aftermath.

We provide expert criminal defence representation for investigations involving raids and seizures by:

  • The Police
  • The Serious Fraud Office
  • The HMRC
  • The Office of Fair Trading
  • UK Border Force

These organisations all have powers to enter premises to search for and seize material for their investigation.

What happens during dawn raid searches and seizures?

In a dawn raid, the police break into a premises where they think evidence to support a case will be found. In an attempt to catch suspects unawares, raids are normally carried out in the early hours of the morning.

Dawn raids are carefully planned by the police, but the suspect will know nothing about it until it happens. The element of surprise is a key factor in the success of a dawn raid, designed to make sure the individual is completely unprepared, minimising the chances of evidence being removed or destroyed.

An application for a raid will be authorised by a court order if there is substantial reason to believe that evidence to support a case will be found at the premises being raided. This might be stolen property, physical items used in a crime, electronic devices or records such as documents, photographs, hard disc drives or files.

Objects and materials might be taken away for analysis in the hope that they can be used as evidence in any future prosecution. The loss of these items - even temporarily - may make it difficult for the subject of the raid to continue in business.

What problems can occur in a dawn raid?

A raid can cause damage to the property, particularly to doors, windows and furniture, and the cost of repairs will not be covered by the police, unless your rights were breached during the process.

As the police attempt to collect all possible evidence from the scene, it is possible that items not relevant to the investigation, but important for the work or education of other members of the household, could be seized.

The police are also authorised to use Tasers and police dogs where necessary to achieve the objectives of the raid – both of which carry the risk of causing injury.

At Draycott Browne, we are experienced in dealing with all the issues that need to be resolved following a dawn raid. We will advise on everything, from the validity of search warrants to legally privileged material and what measures can be taken to ensure a company keeps functioning.

Grounds for a Raid

The police have various powers under UK law to enter and search premises. In most cases a warrant is required, but in some cases the police do not need to obtain a warrant.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) is in place to make sure that the enter and search powers are not abused.

In certain circumstances, the police can enter and search a home, office or vehicle, to either arrest a person, seize items in connection with an offence, or both.

Most warrants are issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) or under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Applicants must demonstrate reasonable grounds for believing that an offence has been committed and that there is material on the premises likely to be of substantial value to the investigation.

If the police wrongly raid your home, they may have infringed your right to privacy and family life, and you may be entitled to compensation. The PACE Code of Practice says, “everything possible should be done at the earliest opportunity to allay any sense of grievance”.

If you’re concerned the police may have wrongly raided your home or broken the rules around search warrants, causing you to suffer as a result, talk to a lawyer at Draycott Browne about your rights.

The police can enter and search your home:

  • With your consent.
  • After arresting you or someone else linked to your property.
  • With a search warrant.
  • Under terrorism legislation.

There are several different powers the police can use to enter and search a property without a warrant.

The police do not need a warrant if they are entering to:

  • Stop a crime in progress.
  • Prevent a crime they suspect is about to happen.
  • Save a life or prevent serious injury.
  • Prevent damage to a property.
  • Sort out a disturbance.
  • Respond to a cry for help.
  • Enforce an arrest warrant.
  • Pursue someone they believe has committed, or attempted to commit, a serious crime.

There are numerous other procedural rules that must be followed in the application of the warrant and the conduct of the search. If these rules are not followed the warrant may be voided and any seized property returned. If the proper procedures are not adhered to, it can mean the authorities are not able to use what was taken during the raid in any subsequent prosecution.

Minimising the Impact of a Raid

A raid on your home or business can have a major impact on the individual or company that is the subject of it. We will work with you to ensure that any raid is carried out in complete accordance with the law and minimise the disruption it can cause.

The authorities often use raids to further their investigations. If you think there is a possibility of a raid in the future we can help, make sure you are in the best possible position to manage the effects of a raid before, during and after it has happened.


The lawyers at Draycott Browne, are widely recognised as one of the North of England's leading team of Criminal Defence Solicitors with specialist fraud, money laundering and business crime expertise.

Contact us today by calling the number at the top of this page. If you would like us to contact you, simply fill in our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be in touch as soon as possible.

We are highly regarded nationally across the legal profession and noted for consistently delivering positive results. Our team possesses a breadth of technical knowledge and experience of dawn raids and seizures and will provide you with the expertise needed throughout the process.

Our team of Criminal Defence Lawyers regularly act for clients in London and throughout the Midlands and of course the North West including clients from Birmingham and Liverpool.

By entrusting Draycott Browne, one of the top Criminal Defence Law Firms in the country, you can be assured that you will be working with a team of highly skilled and experienced lawyers who have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the law.

Our legal team is available 7 days a week. For expert legal advice or representation, call Draycott Browne today on (0)161 228 2244.

When you are facing the stiffest challenge, you cannot afford to settle for anything less than Draycott Browne.

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