What’s a legal stop and search?

What’s a legal stop and search?

Before you are searched, the police officer should tell you :

  • that you must wait to be searched;
  • what law they are using and your rights;
  • their name;
  • the station they work at;
  • why they chose you;
  • what they are looking for; and
  • that you have the right to be given a form straightaway showing the details of the stop and search.

So if you’re searched always ask why. Get their details.

The police must act reasonably – not use some made up excuse. They cannot say – ‘Why are you walking away from me’ as an excuse to search you. But they do. So ask them why they have stopped you. If they search you, ask why? Always ask for the form.

Your right to a form

If you are stopped or searched the officer must fill in a form and give it to you straightaway unless for example they are called away to an emergency. In this case you can get a copy from a police station anytime within 12 months.

The officer must write down:

  • your name or a description of you (only if you are searched)
  • your self-defined ethnic background;
  • when and where you were stopped or searched;
  • if they are taking any action
  • the names and/or numbers of the officers; and
  • if you were searched, what they were looking for and anything they found.

The police will ask you for your name, address and date of birth. You do not have to give this information if you do not want to, unless the police say they are reporting you for an offence. If this is the case you could be arrested if you don’t tell them.

You will also be asked to say what your ethnic background is from a list of the national census categories which the officer will show to you. You do not have to say what it is if you don’t want to. But this information is used to show if the police are stopping or searching people just because of their race or ethnicity.

Hey – love this quote from ukpoliceonline: “I would imagine that a police officer would have to identify themselves before a search only if they were plain clothes (for obvious reasons).” Posted 02 November 2010 – 10:16 AM by a Superintendent. OH SO WRONG!

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