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:
- what you’re doing
- 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:
- illegal drugs
- stolen property
- a weapon
- 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:
- serious violence could take place
- you are carrying a weapon or have used one
- you are in a specific location or area
Procedure before you are searched
Before you are searched the Police officer must tell you:
- their name and Police station
- what they expect to find, eg drugs, weapons, etc
- the reason they want to search you
- why they are legally allowed to search you
- that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy
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?
- The Officer must carry out the search as quickly as possible.
- 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 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.
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.