An officer needs reasonable grounds to stop and search you. They should genuinely suspect you have a prohibited item in your possession.
You should not be stopped because of your age, race, ethnicity, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation, disability, the language you speak or because you have committed offences before.
There are a number of laws which give powers to officers to stop and search a person or vehicle.
The most commonly used powers are:
- Section 23 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 - provides the power to search for controlled drugs.
- Section 1 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 - provides the power to search for weapons, stolen property or items which could be used to commit a crime.
- Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 - provides the police with the temporary power (no longer than 15 hours) to search individuals in a specific defined area without ‘reasonable suspicion.’ To use this power a senior officer (Assistant Chief Constable or above) must believe that people are carrying weapons or are going to cause serious violence. Once granted, police officers have the power to stop and search individuals within the defined area for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments. They may also request the removal of certain items of clothing, such as face coverings, which may be concealing your identity.
- Section 43 Terrorism Act 2000 - provides the police with the power to conduct stop and searches where there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe that evidence or articles in connection with terrorism will be found.