The Remit of Stop and Search Powers
This month the government have initiated a renewed focus on stop and search powers available to police officers and the importance of this power in tackling violent crimes and gang violence.
In 2010, 1.4 million stop and search checks were conducted by the Police.
In 2014, the Government brought in measures to limit the use of stop and search checks as a response to criticism that the power was being used too widely and unfairly to target specific ethnic minorities.
Last year, 282 000 stop and search checks were conducted by the Police.
When can the Police legitimately search?
Police officers in England and Wales have the power to carry out stop and searches under the following provisions:
1. Section 1, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
This power allows police officers to conduct a search if they have “reasonable grounds” to suspect someone of carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime. This is the most common used power to carry out stop and search checks by the police.
2. Section 60, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
This power allows police officers to conduct a search on anyone in a designated area without reasonable grounds”.
3. Sections 44 & 47A, Terrorism Act 2000
This power allows police officers to conduct a search on anyone when there is a “reasonable suspicion” an act of terrorism will occur.
What do I need to know if I am Stopped and Searched?
Before the search commences the Police Officer must inform you of the following facts;
• Their name and police station;
• What they expect to find on you;
• The reason they want to search you;
• Under what provisions they are legally allowed to search you;
• and that you are entitled to a copy of the search record
• What are the powers of the Police during the search?
The search officer is permitted to ask you to remove your outerwear for example a coat, jacket or gloves.
The search officer is permitted to ask you to remove other items of clothing that you are wearing and anything you are wearing for religious reasons. However, the officer must take you out of the public view if they require you to remove garments, other than outerwear.
What should I do during the search?
1. Do not refuse to be stop and searched. The process is not voluntary;
2. Stay calm, you are being searched. A search does not mean that you are or will be arrested. Calm compliant behaviour will result in quick search and hopefully, a positive and clear resolution;
2. Ask clarification questions about the process, if you are unsure of what is being requested of you;
4. Ensure that you request and obtain a written record of the search. If this is not available at the time, ask that the officers inform you of how you can obtain a copy;
5. Remember you have a right to video record the search. Such a recording can be made on a mobile device. The Police Officer cannot prohibit or stop you from filming the search. However, please be aware that recording the search should not prohibit or interfere with the search taking place.