What is Stop and Search?Stop and Search is when a police officer stops someone or a vehicle and carries out a search. The primary purpose is to allay or confirm suspicions without having to use the power of arrest.
Stop and Search powersThere are many powers that can be utilised to facilitate a 'Stop and Search', some of the main examples are:
- Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
- Firearms Act 1968
- Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
- Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 (Sec. 1)
A person or vehicle can be detained for the purpose of a search. An officer will use powers to conduct a search if there is reasonable grounds to suspect that someone may be in possession of articles such as drugs, stolen goods, offensive weapons, firearms etc or any items that may demonstrate a link with crime. When officers use powers to conduct a stop and search they will always record the details.
Where can searches be conducted?Many searches can be conducted anywhere, but the most widely used power is the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 this can only be conducted in a public place, therefore officers can not search you in your home and your garden, or in the home or garden of someone who has given you permission to be there under this power.
Reasonable GroundsReasonable grounds for suspicion rely on information or intelligence about someone or their behaviour and can never be supported on the basis of personal facts alone, such as:
The police officer should provide:
- Their name and the police station where they work (they will show their warrant card if in plain clothes)
- The fact the person is being detained
- The legal power being exercised
- The object of the search
- The grounds for the search
- A record of the search and entitlement to a copy
An application can be made for a copy of the record up to three months after the search is carried out.
Conduct of the SearchEfforts will be made to reduce the embarrassment and inconvenience when a search is carried out and they will always be conducted with courtesy, consideration and respect. Every effort will be made to conduct the search with someone's consent, however, reasonable force can be used as a last resort when the person makes it clear that they are unwilling to consent.
An officer has no power to remove any items of clothing in public other than an outer coat, jacket and gloves. However, there is nothing to stop the officer asking someone to remove more than their outer clothing voluntarily, this would be conducted away from public view.