Stop and search

We carry out on average 20 stop and searches per day, recognising that stop and search powers are an effective tool in detecting crime, recovering property and arresting offenders, whilst also recognising that such searches need to done based on the best intelligence at the time, and conducted in an ethical manner.

Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme

Therefore to increase transparency and further improve our use of the search powers we have adopted the Home Office Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme. The aim of the scheme is to achieve greater transparency, community involvement in the use of stop and search powers and to support a more intelligence-led approach, leading to better outcomes.

Stop and Search Data

We regularly publish statistics about stop and searches carried out by officers - including outcomes - at police.uk. You can also read more about the publication of this data.

Stop and Search Powers

Police officers can stop and talk to you at any time and have the power in certain circumstances to conduct a search. If you are stopped or searched it doesn't mean you have done something wrong.

If you are stopped, it will be in order to ask you to account for yourself and a police officer must have a good reason for stopping or searching you and should tell you what this is.

You should not be stopped just because of your age, race, ethnic background, nationality, religion or faith, the way you look, the language you speak or because you have committed a crime in the past.

There are occasions when police officers can search anyone within a certain area, for example when there is evidence that serious violence could take place there, or a terrorist threat has been identified. The officer should explain this to you and must be searching for items to be used in connection with terrorism or violence.

A police officer can stop a vehicle any time and ask to see the driver's documents and can search vehicles if a power exists to conduct such a search.

If the search causes damage, you can ask for compensation but only if the police didn't find anything to connect you to a crime.

What you will be asked

You will be asked to provide your name and date of birth. You don't have to give this information if you don't want to, unless you are told you are being reported for an offence. If this is the case you could be arrested if you don't provide these details.

You will also be asked to say what your ethnic background is from the list of national census categories (available below). Again, you don't have to say what it is if you don't want to. However, this information helps show that we are stopping and searching people from all races and ethnic backgrounds.

What you will be told

If you are stopped by a police officer in order to be searched, they must make you aware of the following:

  • That you must wait to be searched.
  • What law they are using and your rights.
  • Their name.
  • The station they work at.
  • Why they chose you.
  • What they are looking for.
  • That you have a right to obtain a record of the search within three months.

If the officer is not in uniform, they must show you their identity card.

If you are asked to take off layers of clothing or anything you wear for religious reasons, such as a face scarf or turban, you must be taken somewhere out of the public view. In this case, the officer who searches you must be the same sex as you.

Your right to a record

If you are stopped and searched, the police officer must offer you a receipt straight away allowing you to obtain a written record at a later date.

The receipt must contain:

  • The date, time and place of the stop or search.
  • Why they stopped or searched you.
  • What they were looking for.
  • The names and/or collar numbers of the officers.
  • Your self-defined ethnic background.

National Census Categories

When you are asked to provide your ethnic background, you should choose from one of the following:

White

  • British
  • Irish
  • Any other white background

Mixed

  • White and black Caribbean
  • White and black African
  • White and Asian
  • Any other mixed background

Asian or Asian British

  • Indian
  • Pakistani
  • Bangladeshi
  • Any other Asian background

Black or Black British

  • Caribbean
  • African
  • Any other black background

Chinese

  • Chinese

Other

  • Any other ethnic group

Section 60 powers

Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 gives police the right to search people in a defined area, during a specific time period if they believe serious violence will take place or a person is carrying weapons. S.60 is different to other stop and search powers in that it requires the authority of a Chief Officer, and officers carrying out the search itself do not require reasonable grounds to suspect that the person or vehicle is carrying weapons.

Community Trigger Application - Stop and Search

If you have a concern about the way the police are using stop and search within your community please contact us using the online Community Trigger Application - Stop and Search form.

Stop and Search Lay Observer Scheme

Under the Stop and Search Lay Observer Scheme, members of the public can apply to accompany officers on patrol when they might deploy stop and search powers.

Applicants will need to be voluntarily vetted prior to being approved to accompany an officer, and will need to be flexible regarding the hours they accompany an officer and the area where they patrol. A number of other restrictions apply, which are outlined on the application form.

Progress against HMIC recommendations

We have developed plans that set out how we will complete the action required to make good progress in relation to the recommendations in the HMIC's 2013 Stop and Search Powers report. word icon Download our latest update [116kb].

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