Stop and Search: Know Your Rights

November 18, 2008

Being stopped by the police can be pretty intimidating, so to counter that we’ve compiled this brief guide to your rights.


Before you are searched, the police must inform you of the following:

a) their name and the police station they work at

b) the purpose of the proposed search

c) the grounds for making a search

d) your right to a record of the search.


They can search you if they suspect you are carrying: drugs, weapons, stolen property, or items which could be used to commit a crime. They can also search you without suspicion if a senior officer has authorised it for a specific area under: Section 60 of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 (CJA) or Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. These are sometimes called “blanket searches”.


Apart from these blanket searches, an officer must have reasonable suspicion to search you – ask them what it is. You should not be stopped or searched just because of your age, ethnic background, the way you look, or because you have committed a crime in the past.


If you are in a public place, you only have to remove your coat or jacket, and gloves (but also headgear and shoes under the Terrorism Act). Items used wholly or mainly to disguise identity may be seized if an order under s60AA of the CJA is in place.


Unless you are a driver of a vehicle, when searched you do not have to give your name and address when asked – they will often tell you otherwise.


For more information about police powers:


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