Increased police patrols in the era of coronavirus could mean that many of us will come into personal contact with the intervention of police officers. It is therefore worth knowing what both the police officer and controlled person are entitled and obliged to do.
First of all, it should be borne in mind that the primary task of the Police is to recognise, prevent and detect crimes, fiscal offences and misdemeanours. This basis alone gives the police officers, as part of their duties, the right to verify whether we comply with a number of orders and prohibitions imposed on us by the Act on Preventing and Combating Infections and Infectious Diseases in Humans, the Regulation of the Council of Ministers on establishing certain restrictions, orders and prohibitions in connection with the occurrence of a state of epidemic. The infringement of certain restrictions under that regulation may be treated as an offence under Article 54 of the Code of Petty Offences, for which a fine of up to PLN 500 may be imposed.
Therefore, if police officers during the patrol notice behaviour that violates or may violate orders and prohibitions imposed by the said regulation, they may, or even are obliged to, intervene. In the course of the intervention, police officers, in the performance of their duties, seek to establish whether an offence has been committed. Therefore, police officers have the right to carry out the so-called questioning, in which they will determine, for example, the reasons for our movement. Police officers also have the right to check our identity, which is performed by means of asking to identify ourselves. For that purpose police officers will ask for a document confirming our identity. It is worth remembering that in the case of refusal to present an identity document or, in the absence thereof, refusal to provide information concerning our identity, we commit an offence under Article 65 § 2 of the Code of Petty Offences, which provides for much more severe penalties than the aforementioned Article 54 of the Code of Petty Offences. In some cases, rather extreme from the point of view discussed here, police officers may also, among other things, carry out a personal check or inspection of the luggage, or even detain us. It should also be borne in mind that in the course of performing official duties, police officers may issue commands for specific behaviour within the limits necessary to perform the duty. Failure to follow the commands entitles a police officer to use coercive measures, i.e. physical force, handcuffs, etc. Resisting the police officers who intervene is certainly not a good idea, so our reservations about how certain activities were carried out should be expressed in an appropriate complaint or grievance to which we are entitled. It should not be forgotten that the police officers carrying out the above activities also have certain obligations that we may require. Police officers are obliged to provide their rank, name and surname in a manner enabling the data to be recorded, the reason for undertaking official duties, and, at the request of the person against whom the activity is carried out, the legal basis for undertaking such an activity.
If police officers establish that an offence under Article 54 of the Code of Petty Offences has been committed, they may impose on us a ticket of up to PLN 500. We may refuse to accept such a ticket, which will result in filing motion for punishment to the court. It is worth remembering, however, that in accordance with the Code of Petty Offences, police officers may also inform, instruct or warn the person and abstain from further action. Whether we are punished or the police officer decides to apply one of the so-called measures of educational treatment depends largely on our attitude. Although the orders and prohibitions introduced raise numerous doubts as to their constitutionality, it must be remembered that a police officer is not appointed to examine the constitutionality of legal regulations, but to enforce them. It often turns out that simple courtesy and humility is enough to avoid a fine or a court case.