The Police Powers of Stopping and Searching
The police can stop and search any person, vehicle, and anything in or
on the vehicle for certain items. However, before they stop and search
they must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that they will find:-
· Stolen goods; or
· An offensive weapon; or
· Any article made or adapted for use in certain offences, for example
a burglary or theft; or
· An article with a blade or point; or
· Items which could damage or destroy property, for example spray
The police can also search a football coach going to or from a
football match if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting there is
alcohol on board or that someone is drunk on the coach.
In all of these situations where the police have a right to stop and
search, they should not require you to take off any clothing other
than an outer coat, jacket or gloves.
If you are arrested, the police can search you for anything you might
use to help you escape or for evidence relating to the offence that
has led to your arrest.
In some circumstances a police officer of the rank of inspector or
above can give the police permission to make stops and searches in an
area for a certain amount of time - as long as this is for no more
than 24 hours. When this permission is in force the police can search
for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments whether or not they
have grounds for suspecting that people are carrying these items. An
officer with the rank of assistant chief constable or above can also
give permission for searches in an area in order to prevent acts of
The police can search you in any place that is generally open to the
public. This means they can search you anywhere other than your home
and your garden, or the home or garden of someone who has given you
permission to be there. If the police have reasonable grounds for
believing that you are not, in fact, in your own home or that you are
somewhere without the permission of the homeowner, they can search
you. There are separate rules about when the police have powers to
enter your own home – see under heading.
The police can use reasonable force when they stop and search, but
must make every effort to persuade you to co-operate. They should only
use force as a last resort.
Before searching, the police officer should tell you that you are
being detained for the purposes of a search. The police officer should
also give you their name, the name of their police station, the object
of the search and their grounds or authorization for making the
search. If the search is connected to terrorism the officer can give
their police number instead of their name. You should also be told
that you have a right to a copy of the record of the search. If it is
impractical to make a...