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Stop and Search

If you are stopped in the street by officers with the intention of searching you, and you object to this, do the following:-

  • Make it clear that any stop and/or search is carried out without your permission and under compulsion, but that you will co-operate with the search.
  • Make sure the officers identify themselves properly. They must, if you ask, show you their warrant card, and allow you to make a note of their names and numbers.
  • You are fully entitled to be informed of the name, number, and station of each officer. If you are not told each of these, the search will be unlawful, and any arrest which follows will be unlawful. If it unlawful, you may be entitled to claim damages against them.
  • Ask what they are looking for, and on what grounds. They must have reasonable grounds for the stop and search. If they refuse to state their grounds make a note of the refusal.
  • They must record the stop and search. Ask them to give you a note which will allow to you to get the record of the stop.
  • If the place is very public, it is tempting to find somewhere less humiliating for the process. It is probably better to stay in public.

Though such stops and searches are recordable by the police, it is notorious that they do not in fact make such records, particularly outside London. Above all, make it clear that you will co-operate.

S1 PACE see case inTimes October 1999

Important: Please note that our law-bytes are retained for archival purposes only. The law changes, and these notes are often, now, out of date. You must take direct advice on your own personal situation and the law as it currently stands.
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