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Stop and Search: Know Your Rights

View profile for Katie McCaughin
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Do you think you have been unlawfully stopped and searched?

The GOV.UK website reports that there were 277,378 stop and searches in 2017/18. This number is likely to increase. It is therefore important that you know your rights.

Top Tips for handling the search

  • Remain calm
  • Know your rights
  • Ask the officer for reasons
  • Ask for a record of each search

 The police SHOULD ONLY stop and search you if they have reasonable grounds to suspect you are carrying:

  • Illegal drugs,
  • Weapons,
  • Stolen goods or,
  • Something that could be used to commit crime.

Under these powers the police cannot tell you to remove more than your outer clothing in public view (your jacket, hat, scarf etc). The police do have the power to require you to remove other items of clothing, but this must be done out of public view.

When you are stopped you are ENTITLED to know:

  • The officers name and police station they are from,
  • What the officer expected to find,
  • The reason and legal basis for the search ,
  • They should explain that you can have a record of the search either at that moment or at a later date,
  • You should be told how to obtain a copy of the search.

Please note: you are entitled to request a copy for up to 12 months after the search.

What do I do if I am being stopped and searched frequently?

  • You should not be stopped and searched simply because you have previous convictions. If you believe that you are being disproportionately stopped and searched by officers then you need to ensure you keep a record of all searches. You can these use these records to make a complaint to your local police station.