Can the police stop and search me?

Can the police stop and search me? [Know Your Rights]

Can the police stop and search me?

”Stop and search” is a method used by Police in the UK to try and prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. During a stop and search the Police have to uphold your rights at all times. They have a set of guidelines which they must follow which outlines how and when they can carry out a stop and search.

What are my rights if I am stopped and searched?

  • You are not obliged to give the Police Officer your name and address in a Stop and Search. You cannot be arrested simply for not giving this information.
  • The Police must carry out the search as quickly as possible.
  • The search must take place nearby to where you are stopped.
  • If the Police ask 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 cannot not be stopped or searched simply 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.

Refusing to co-operate with a stop and search

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

Stop and Question. What are the police powers?

A police community support officer (PCSO) must be in uniform when they stop and question you. A police officer doesn’t always have to be in uniform but if they’re not wearing uniform they must show you their warrant card.

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

However, you don’t have to answer any questions the police officer asks you.

Stop and Search: What are the police powers?

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

  • illegal drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen property
  • something which could be used to commit a crime

You may 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’re carrying a weapon or have used one
  • you’re in a specific location or area

Before you’re searched

Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you:

  • their name and police station
  • what they expect to find, eg drugs
  • the reason they want to search you, eg it looks like you’re hiding something
  • 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

Removing clothing: police powers

A police officer may ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves.

The police may ask you to take off other clothes and anything you’re wearing for religious reasons – eg a veil or turban. If they ask you to do this 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.

If you need advice regarding any criminal related matter, please contact me for advice.