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Police Stop and Search

In the UK, stop and search is a technique used by Police to try and prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. You have clearly defined legal rights which must be upheld by the Police during the a stop and search procedure. The Police must follow a strict set of guidelines detailing how and when they can carry out a stop and search.

We are specialists in Criminal Defence and can advise you on any matters involving the Police and stop and search.

A Police officer doesn’t always have to be in uniform when they stop and search you, but if they’re not wearing uniform they must show you their warrant card.

A Police community support officer (PCSO) must be in uniform when they stop and question you.

Stop and question

A Police officer has powers to stop you at any time and ask you:

  1. what you’re doing
  2. why you’re in an area and/or where you’re going

You have the right not to answer any questions the Police officer asks you.

Stop and search

A Police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you are carrying:

  1. illegal drugs
  2. stolen property
  3. a weapon
  4. something which could be used to commit a crime

You can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior Police officer. This can happen if it is suspected that:

  1. serious violence could take place
  2. you are carrying a weapon or have used one
  3. you are in a specific location or area

Procedure before you are searched

Before you are searched the Police officer must tell you:

  1. their name and Police station
  2. what they expect to find, eg drugs, weapons, etc
  3. the reason they want to search you
  4. why they are legally allowed to search you
  5. that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy

Removing clothing

There are specific rules governing removing clothing.

A Police officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves.

The Police might ask you to take off other clothes and anything you’re wearing for religious reasons - eg a turban or veil. If they do, they must take you somewhere out of public view.

If the officer wants to remove more than a jacket and gloves they must be the same sex as you.

What are my rights if I am stopped and searched?

  1. The Officer must carry out the search as quickly as possible.
  2. 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.
  3. The search must take place near where you are stopped.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. If English is not your first language Police Officers must take reasonable steps to explain why you have been stopped in your first language.

Can I refuse to co-operate with a stop and search?

If you refuse to stop, the Police can use reasonable force to stop you so they can conduct a search.

For further advice regarding any criminal related matter, please contact us.

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