What is Stop and Search?

The police have the power to stop and search to protect members of the community. We know being stop and searched can be a scary or annoying process but remember it is an important tool the police have to keep us safe. Remember, stay calm and polite and if you are in doubt of anything that is happening, ask questions.

Being stopped and searched is not the same as being arrested and is not a criminal record, nor something which you need to tell an employer or anyone else about unless you want to. While a record of the search is kept that is not a criminal record and your details are not put on the local or national police systems as any sort of suspect or criminal.

What you can expect?

The officer will tell you their surname and the police station they work at. If they are not in uniform, they must show you their identification.
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) must be in uniform.

They will tell you what they expect to find. For example, drugs or a weapon.

They will tell you why they are searching you. For example, you match the description of an offender. This cannot be just because of your race age or gender.

The officer will tell you they are legally allowed to search you and they will provide you with a record of the stop and search.

Removing clothing: police powers

In a public place a police officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves.

The police can ask you to take off other clothes including anything you’re wearing for religious reasons – eg a veil or turban. If they do, they must take you somewhere private, 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 are stopped you should record the details of the officers and what happened:

  • Time and date
  • Officer’s surname and badge number
  • Where were you stopped?
  • What happened?
What can I do if I am unhappy about being Stop and searched?

If you were not happy with why you were stopped and searched or if you were not happy with the way in which you were treated during being stopped and searched you can make a complaint.

This can be done by contacting your police force directly.

Find out more…

The Mix website has more information about Stop and Search and other articles about crime and safety. Click on the image to go to their site.