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Dawn Raid Solicitors

A dawn raid can be a distressing and unpleasant experience and we understand that it can cause disruption to your home or your business – our specialist solicitors can help you if you are subject to a dawn raid and seizure.

Free Initial Telephone Discussion

For a free initial telephone discussion, please call us on 020 7404 3004 or email and we'll be in touch shortly. We can help clients wherever you are based across England and Wales.

We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you require urgent assistance, please contact us on our emergency number on 07738 802993.

What is a dawn raid?

A dawn raid is an unannounced visit from the police or another investigatory body, usually at 6am or 7am. It may be conducted by the police, the Serious Fraud Office, Financial Conduct Authority, HM Revenue and Customs, local authorities or another investigatory body. They will be acting under powers granted by law, either by the court or statute. A dawn raid can also happen during a civil investigation if a party obtains a Search Order, or ‘search and seizure’ order from the court.

A dawn raid in an investigation may involve the seizure of documents, computer and hard drives. Our solicitors can help safeguard your business and advise you on data protection issues arising.

Our solicitors can also provide advice about the steps following a dawn raid, including challenging the legal basis for the dawn raid.

Dawn raid conducted by the Serious Fraud Office or Financial Conduct Authority

If either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Serious Fraud Office suspect that a business has been involved in serious regulatory offences or breaches, they may conduct a dawn raid at your business premises.

The Serious Fraud Office, or SFO, investigates complex and serious fraud. The SFO may raid a premises following:

  • Reports of fraud, serious fraud, bribery or corruption;

  • Reports of other criminal activity (such as tax evasion, benefit fraud or illegal immigration).


Under the Criminal Justice Act 1987, the SFO are permitted to enter your premises to search and seize documents if the SFO has reasonable grounds to believe a serious or complex fraud has been committed.

The Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, is the financial regulatory body in the UK. It has powers to investigate insider dealing, market manipulation, misleading statements. Under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, the FCA can obtain a warrant to search material, request documents or compel you to answer questions or attend an interview.

Dawn raid conducted by HM Revenue and Customs

 HM Revenue and Customs, or HMRC, is responsible for tax collection and administration. If the HMRC receives a report of suspected tax fraud, they may raid a business premises.

Dawn raid conducted by the police

What powers do the police have to enter and search your premises?

The police can enter your home in the following circumstances:

  • With a search warrant

  • Under terrorism legislation

  • After you or someone linked to your premises has been arrested

  • With your consent.


Entering your premises with a search warrant

What is a search warrant?

A search warrant is a court order which permits the police to search and force entry to a premises in a criminal investigation, usually under Section 8 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (‘PACE’). Warrants are obtained by police to search either a premises or vehicle for evidence and permits the police to confiscate evidence of a crime.

To obtain a search warrant, the police must apply to the Magistrates’ court for a search warrant. This will only be granted if the court believes that the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been committed and that your premises must be searched for evidence in relation to that offence.

The police do not need to show you the warrant before entering your premises if it could lead to evidence being destroyed. The police must show you the warrant ‘as soon as practicable’.

What can the police do if they have obtained a search warrant?

The police can only enter the premises on one occasion (unless the warrant permits otherwise) and must carry out a search of the premises within three months of the date of the issue of the search warrant.

If the police have executed the warrant unlawfully, you may be able to bring a claim against the police for trespass. Our solicitors can also assist you in challenging the search warrant through the process of judicial review.  

Police must also use reasonable and proportionate force to enter your premises if necessary. Our solicitors can assist you if unreasonable or excessive force has been used by the police during a search or dawn raid. 

Without a warrant: what can the police do?

The police can also enter your premises without a search warrant if they have your written consent or if a delay in obtaining warrant is likely to see evidence destroyed or removed.

The police are permitted to enter your premises without a warrant:

  • To enforce an arrest warrant

  • To pursue someone they believe has committed a serious crime

  • If you or someone connected with your premises has been arrested for an indictable offence


How can we help?

Our solicitors can help you if you have suffered as the result of a police search or dawn raid. If you believe that the police have conducted a dawn raid unlawfully, our civil solicitors can assist you to bring a claim for damages.

How to get in contact

If you need a specialist solicitor, please contact Paul O'Donnell on 07740290616, at or call 0207 404 3004.


We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We can assist wherever you are based and have offices in central London.

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