How we use stop and search

The primary purpose of stop and search is to enable officers to either allay or confirm their suspicions about an individual without having to arrest them.

Effectiveness must reflect where suspicion has been allayed and an unnecessary arrest, which is more intrusive, has been avoided; or where suspicion has been confirmed and the object is found or a relevant crime is detected.

There are three type of stop and search powers:
  1. Powers which require officers to have ‘reaonsable grounds’ to conduct the search, also known as a ‘section 1’.
  2. A power which allows officers to search without reasonable grounds, sometimes know as ‘no suspicion’ or a ‘section 60’ search. This power can only be used when authorised by a senior officer based on certain ‘pre-conditions’.
  3. A power officers can use to search those they ‘reaonsably suspect’ are terrorists.

We believe a stop and search is most likely to be fair and effective when:

  • the search is justified, lawful and stands up to public scrutiny
  • the officer has genuine and objectively reasonable suspicion they will find a prohibited article or item for use in crime
  • the person understands why they have been searched and feels they have been treated with respect
  • the search was necessary and was the most proportionate method the police officer could use to establish whether the person has such an item

Our chief constable supports the use of stop and search in a fair and effective way that enhances public confidence and is independently scrutinised.

We will continue to work with our communities and stakeholders to improve the quality of interactions and ensure that stop and search continues to protect the public.

Recording stop and searches

The use of body worn video cameras help to reassure the public that their interactions with the police are recorded. The technology offers greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as those behind it.

The cameras will allow officers to demonstrate the professionalism of officers, gather evidence and demonstrate their professionalism in the face of many challenges.

It’s important that you're aware of your rights and responsibilities in the event of a stop and search.

Officers are responsible for making sure that your rights are protected, and, in turn, they expect members of the public to acknowledge their responsibilities and comply with their requests in a reasonable and calm manner.

What does stop and search involve?

This involves a police officer stopping you or your vehicle and then searching you, your vehicle, your clothes or anything that you are carrying.

There must be a good reason for stopping you and for searching and officers should tell you what this is.

An officer will only search you if they have reasonable grounds to suspect they're likely to find:

- Stolen property

- Weapons

- Drugs 

- Items which could be used to commit burglary, theft or deception

- Certain types of firework

- Evidene of game and wildlife offences

- Alcohol at or on route to a designated sporting event

- Items made, adapted or intended to damage or destroy property

- Articles connected with terrorism

What happens after the search?

According to The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), police officers are required to make a record of every search they conduct at the time of. 

If you require a copy, you will be provided with one. Or, you can apply for a copy within three months of the search taking place. If you are arrested and taken to a police station, the details of the search will be recorded as part of your custody record instead.

The record of the search may be in a paper format or electronic. 

As a minimum, the police officer is legally required to record:

- Date, time and place of the search;

- Your self defined ethnicity (if provided) / observed ethnicity;

- What they were looking for;

- Their grounds for searching you or the legal power / authority used;

- The officer's details

How do I make a complaint?

Both your experiences and opinions of the stop and search process are important to us. 

To make a formal complaint and for more information about how complaints are investigated, read our complaints pages. If you've had a positive experience, you can offer us feedback here.