Police Powers – Stop and Search

What is Stop and Search?

One of the powers that the police have is the ability to stop and search any member of the public. They do this in order to try and prevent crime in a community. This means that you could be stopped by the police and asked questions about what you are doing in that area. The police can stop you either on the street or when you are in your car.

Police also have the power to stop you and then search you if they believe you may be carrying an illegal substance or anything that could be used as a weapon.

What happens if I am stopped and searched?

If the police stop you it does not necessarily mean they believe you have done anything wrong and it is not the same as an arrest. Police may be stopping you to ask for help or information.

Unless you fit the description of a suspect the police cannot stop you on the basis of your age, race, sex, religion, the clothes you are wearing, hairstyles or tattoos.

What do the police do? 

The police must let you know what their name is and what station they work for. They also have to tell you the reason why they are stopping you and what they are looking for. Additionally, they must record all the details of the stop and search on a form that they give to you.  

The search must take place in a public place, e.g. the street. However, if the officer asks you to remove more than your coat, hat, gloves or anything you wear for a religious reason, they must take you somewhere out of the public view.

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For more information on:

  • What information will I have to provide?
  • Can I complain?