UK Stop and Search Law

What Is The UK Stop And Search Law

policeman stopping and searchThe laws in the UK are well defined when it comes to stop and search. Giving consideration to both you and the police, ensuring there are specific rights to help and protect both parties during any search.

The one thing you must remember if you are ever stopped by the police is:

A searched does not mean you are being arrested. 

 

 


 

 

A police officer has the power to stop and question you at any time – as well as search you,  depending on the actual situation.

A police community support officer (PCSO) can only perform this if in uniform when they ask to stop and question you. However, a police officer does not always have to be in a police uniform,  but if they’re not wearing uniform they must show you their police warrant card.

Stop and question: police powers

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: 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, eg a crowbar

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’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 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 veil or turban. 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.

Always remember that being stopped and then being searched does not mean you are being arrested.