ESTABLISHING IDENTITY is a police power whereby a police officer establishes the identity of a specific individual (if the person providing identification is in actuality the person he/she asserts himself/herself to be) and such person's personal data.

A person proves his/her identity by providing a personal identity card or any other valid public document bearing a photograph (e.g. driving licence, passport) issued by a state authority. A police officer may, while establishing his/her identity, request the person to hand over such a document for examination. The police officer will examine, compare and verify the data. If the person is covered or masked, the police officer can demand that the person uncover himself/herself so as to indubitably determine his/her identity.

If the police officer has doubts regarding the authenticity of the public document or if the person does not have such a document on his/her person, the police officer may establish identity in another manner (through discussion, verification of data on identity with the aid of data from records, other documents and the aid of other persons, or at another location or in a manner suggested by the person, if such an action is deemed safe and practical).

If a police officer cannot establish the identity of the person, the person is taken to the police premises where an identification procedure is carried out, which in addition to the verification of data from records, also comprises the comparison of fingerprints and palm prints, photographs and personal description of the person and other operative and forensic measures.

The general legal basis for the power to establish identity assessment is defined in the Police Act. The aforementioned power is also directly or indirectly defined in the Police Act, Minor Offences Act, State Border Control Act, Traffic Safety Act and other laws, Identity Card Act and Personal Name Act.

Pursuant to the Police Act, police officers may establish the identity of a person who:

  • must be apprehended, brought in or detained;
  • is in an area where movement is prohibited or restricted;
  • is in an area, location or building in which the search or tracking of a perpetrator of a criminal offence or minor offence is underway or objects and traces significant for the criminal or minor offence procedure or violations are located;
  • through his/her behaviour, actions, appearance or loitering at a particular location or at a particular time gives reason for suspicion that he/she might commit, is committing or has committed a minor or criminal offence
  • based on a description, has a likeness to a wanted person;
  • is obviously in a weak state and the establishment of identity is required for emergency aid;
  • could provide beneficial data for performing the official tasks of the Police.

Based on justified grounds police officers may establish the identity of a person and forward his/her data also to State officials and entities with public authorisation and also at justified request of other persons if the enforcement of their rights before the court or State bodies is dependent on establishing the identification of a certain person. The police officer assesses the justification of the request for establishing identity.