Home > Community & Law > Protecting Yourself While Making a Citizen's Arrest

Protecting Yourself While Making a Citizen's Arrest

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 21 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Citizen’s Arrest Physical Safe Legal

Protecting yourself while making a citizen’s arrest is absolutely vital, in both a physical sense and a legal manner. The chances of a person who makes a citizen’s arrest being either hurt or finding themselves embroiled in a legal battle are not slim so it is important to take all precautions to try to minimise the chances of this happening.

Protecting Yourself Physically

If you are on your own and about to make a citizen’s arrest then it is you against the offender. This can often be down to a size and strength battle but the one fact which you can never discount is that an offender will be more desperate, and, of course, more likely to use excessive force to hurt you. After all, the fact that they have committed one crime shows they are not scared of breaking the law, so they may well not be too worried about breaking any more laws and hurting the person who is trying to stop them.

One thing to always bear in mind is the use of weapons. It can never be discounted that the person you want to apprehend has a weapon. The more serious the offence they are committing, the more likely this is. If they do have a weapon - a knife or a gun – then a citizen’s arrest cannot be advised. Far better to call police who have the necessary equipment to deal with armed criminals rather than risk your own life.

If it is more a case of having the strength to detain the person, then if they do prove stronger than you and you are at risk of being seriously hurt, again, it is better to allow the police to deal with it, even if this takes longer. Always announce what you plan to do – if they know you are going to stop them, the element of surprise is taken away and they may be less likely to lash out.

Protecting Yourself Legally

As someone making a citizen’s arrest, you have very limited powers with regards to what you can do. But the absolute imperative thing to remember is that you must be sure the person you are apprehending has committed, is committing or is going to commit a crime and there is not time to alert the authorities. A citizen does not have the same rights as a police officer, who can arrest someone they believe may be about to commit a crime or someone they suspect of having committed a crime. If a member of the public does this, it is just conjecture and if they are wrong, they face being taken to court themselves, possibly even for assault.

Always remember that a citizen’s arrest is a last resort measure. It is something you do when the police will not be able to find the criminal or not prevent the crime being committed. But your safety and protection should be of paramount importance and you should never compromise these without thinking very carefully about the consequences.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
    Re: Questionnaire: Do You Have Time to Be a Volunteer?
    Great interpretation of results. However, various optional interpretations and generalization are not…
    24 August 2019
  • Hugh mungus
    Re: Good Citizenship
    I was denied citizenship because i am black, why is this
    10 June 2019
  • Majaani
    Re: The Role of Volunteers
    Hello I would like to have volunteers to visit my organisation called the NISSI PROJECT, found in Uganda, Africa,we care about orphans and…
    28 November 2018
  • non
    Re: Being a Responsible Citizen
    you should adress the goverment departments and agencies they will manipulate situations , for thier benefit and outcome , and…
    21 January 2018
  • Tunji Rhema
    Re: Being a Responsible Citizen
    I love this topic. This is what I have been preaching as an NGO. And the act of being responsible is transferable. Children watch…
    28 November 2017
  • Laudonya
    Re: The Role of Volunteers
    I desire to receive volunteers to my community. I need my community to be empowered and helped to reduce crime.We have an organization…
    20 October 2017