Police Stop and Search - Your Rights
If you are stopped and searched by the Police, you have certain rights which must be upheld. Whether or not you are arrested, the Police have a strict set of guidelines detailing when and how they can carry out a stop and search.
When can the Police stop and search me?
There are a number of scenarios where the Police have a right to stop and search you.
- A Police Constable may stop and search you, your pockets, your bag and/or your vehicle in a public place if they have reasonable suspicion they will find any of the following:
- a stolen item
- an offensive weapon
- an article adapted for use in connection with or intended by the person having it for use in a Burglary, Theft, taking a motor vehicle without consent (TWOC), Fraud or Criminal Damage
- a firework possessed in contravention of a fireworks regulation
- a controlled drug (follow this link for drugs offences)
- You or your vehicle may also be searched by uniformed Police Constables if you enter a locality where a Police Inspector has reasonable belief that serious violence may take place. This has typically been used against suspected Football Hooligans or Gang Members.
- A Police Constable or Police Community Support Officers may also search you and your vehicle under the Terrorism Act 2000 s44 if a Police Officer of sufficient rank considers it necessary to prevent of acts of terrorism. The police often use this law to search people at random in train stations or entertainment events.
What must a Police Officer tell me if I am stopped?
If a Police Officer wants to Stop & Search you, they must tell you the following:
- The law under which they are stopping or searching you
- Their collar number and police station
- The reason for the stop (unless it is a search under the Terrorism Act)
- What they are looking for
- That you are detained for the duration of the stop and search
They should also fill out a form outlining the reason for stopping you, the outcome of the stop and search and their name, and give you a copy.
What are my rights?
- You do not have to give the Police Officer your name and address in a Stop and Search. Declining to provide this information is not a valid reason for arrest.
- The Officer must carry out the search as quickly as possible.
- The search must take place near where you are stopped.
- If the Officer asks you to remove more than your coat and gloves, or anything you wear for religious reasons, they must take you somewhere out of public view.
- You should not be stopped or searched just because of your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, the way you dress or because you’ve committed a crime in the past.
- If English is not your first language Police Officers must take reasonable steps to explain why you have been stopped in your first language.
Follow this link for information on your rights if arrested by the police.
Can I refuse to co-operate?
If you refuse to stop, the police can use reasonable force to stop you so they can conduct a search.
If you have been stopped and searched unreasonably or unfairly, you can contact us for further advice.