Stop and Search

Police powers to stop and search: YOUR RIGHTS

The police can stop and question you at any time – they can search you depending on the situation.

A police community support officer (PCSO) must be in uniform when they stop and question you. A police officer doesn’t always have to be in uniform but if they’re not wearing uniform they must show you their warrant card.

 

Stop and Search

Stop and search powers help the police to tackle crime. It’s targeted and intelligence-led and practised on people who are suspected of being involved in crime. Find out how it helps to keep our streets safe and what to expect if you are stopped.

Gov. User Guide

This user guide is designed to be a useful reference document with explanatory notes on the issues and classifications that are key to the production and presentation of the Home Office’s annual statistics on the use of Police powers and procedures in England and Wales.
Link to Guide

Stop and question: police powers

A police officer might stop you and ask: what your name is what you’re doing in the area where you’re going You don’t have to stop or answer any questions. If you don’t and there’s no other reason to suspect you, then this alone can’t be used as a reason to search or arrest you.

Stop and search: police powers

If you get caught up in knife crime, you're not just going to get a slap on the wrists. It doesn't matter if it's for your own protection or if you are carrying a knife for someone else. Just carrying a knife can get you sent to prison for up to four years, even if you don't use it.

Your rights when being questioned

The police may question you about the crime you’re suspected of - this will be recorded. You don’t have to answer the questions but there could be consequences if you don’t. The police must explain this to you by reading you the police caution: “You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

Beforeyour searched

Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you: their name and police station what they expect to find, for example drugs the reason they want to search you, for example if it looks like you’re hiding something why they are legally allowed to search you that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy

Removing clothing: police powers

A police officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves. The police might ask you to take off other clothes and anything you’re wearing for religious reasons - for example a veil or turban. If they do, they must take you somewhere out of public view. If the officer wants to remove more than a jacket and gloves they must be the same sex as you.

Your rights in custody

The custody officer at the police station must explain your rights. You have the right to: get free legal advice tell someone where you are have medical help if you’re feeling ill see the rules the police must follow (‘Codes of Practice’) see a written notice telling you about your rights, eg regular breaks for food and to use the toilet (you can ask for a notice in your language) or an interpreter to explain the notice You’ll be searched and your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while you’re in the cell.

Young people under 18 and vulnerable adults

The police must try to contact your parent, guardian or carer if you’re under 18 or a vulnerable adult. They must also find an ‘appropriate adult’ to come to the station to help you and be present during questioning and searching. An appropriate adult can be: your parent, guardian or carer a social worker another family member or friend aged 18 or over a volunteer aged 18 or over The National Appropriate Adult Network provides appropriate adult services in England and Wales.

Responding to concerns about county lines exploitation

If you’re worried that a child or young person might be or is at risk of being exploited by a county lines gang, you must share your concerns.

Reporting

If you think a child is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999. If you’re worried about a child but they are not in immediate danger, you should share your concerns.

Contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or by emailing help@nspcc.org.uk.

If you require advice or general information please get in touch

Youth Unity work in strict confidence to offer impartial advice and signpost