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What are your rights when stopped and searched?


We are experts in Criminal Defence and can advise you on any matters involving the Police and Stop and Search.

When you are stopped and searched by the Police, you need to know what your rights are and whether the Police are entitlted to stop and search you. You also need to know whether they are following the correct procedures.

This page outlines what those procedures are.

What are the rules about when the Police can stop and search me?

The Police have a right to stop and search you in the following circumstances

  1. If the Police have reasonable suspicion they will find any of the following:
    • a stolen item
    • a controlled drug
    • an offensive weapon
    • an item intended for use in a crime
    • a firework possessed in contravention of a fireworks regulation
  2. You or your vehicle may be searched if you enter a location where a Police Inspector has reasonable belief that serious violence may take place. This has been used against suspected football hooligans or gang members.
  3. You may also be searched under the Terrorism Act if a Police Officer of sufficient rank considers it necessary to prevent of acts of terrorism. The police sometimes use this law to search people at random in train stations or entertainment events.

What information should I be given when stopped?

The Police must tell you:

  • What they are looking for
  • Their individual collar number and police station
  • That you are being detained for the duration of the stop and search
  • The law under which they are stopping you
  • The reason for the stop (unless it is a search under the Terrorism Act)

The Police should also complete a form and give you a copy which outlines the reason for stopping you, the outcome of the stop and search and their name.

What are my rights if I am stopped & searched?


  • You are not obliged to give the police officer your name and address. (Refusing to give this information is not a valid reason for arrest)
  • The search should be carried out as quickly as possible.
  • The search must take place near the location where you are stopped.
  • If the Police ask you to take off more than your coat and gloves, (or anything you wear for religious reasons), they must take you somewhere out of public view.
  • You can not be stopped or searched simply because of:
    • your age
    • race
    • gender
    • sexual orientation
    • disability
    • religion
    • the way you dress
    • because you have committed a crime in the past

If English is not your first language the Police must take reasonable steps to explain why you have been stopped in your first language.

If I am stopped, can I refuse to co-operate?

The police can use reasonable force to stop you so criminal solicitors sheffieldthey can conduct a search.

If you have been stopped and searched and you think you were treated unfairly, or the above guidelines were not adhered to, please contact us for further advice.

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