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Public order offences and powers of arrest


The Gardaí have the powers to arrest without warrant people guilty of the following offences under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994:

As can be seen from the above, the Gardaí are given a power of arrest without warrant for almost all of the offences contained in this Act.

The bystander test

For the offence of riot, violent disorder or affray, the bystander test is applied. This means that if a bystander was present at the scene of the event or offence while it is being committed, they would fear for their own safety or the safety of someone else.

Public place

In the Act a number of offences are included which only become offences if they are committed in a public place. For example, offences under Sections 4 to 9 of the Act are limited to a public place. The definition of a public place is contained in Section 3 of the Act and includes almost all places. It is one of the widest definitions of a public place in the criminal justice system.

You can read more about public order offences by clicking here.

Public order offences and the Adult Cautioning Scheme

Under the Adult Cautioning Scheme (introduced in February 2006), a number of public order offences are included in the list of offences which may be dealt with by way of caution under the Scheme. If you are cautioned under this Scheme it means you are not brought into the court system. The public order offences which can be dealt with by way of caution are:

There is more information on the Adult Cautioning Scheme here.

Page edited: 16 June 2015



Related Documents

  • Public order offences
    The law on public order offences is mainly set down in the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994. Find out more about the different types of offences
  • Adult Cautioning Scheme
    The Adult Cautioning Scheme can be an alternative to prosecution for certain offences where a caution is considered to be in the public interest.
  • Restriction on movement orders
    The courts can impose restrictions on the movements of those convicted of some minor offences as an alternative to imposing a custodial sentence. Find out when they are used here.

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