Being Stopped and Searched is no easy process. You’re having a great day, then up pops some officer of the law talking about something being “suspicious” and then before you know it they have their hands in your pockets and are asking you where you live.
It can leave you feeling annoyed, angry or worse. Try to remember, however, that stop and search is a key tool used by the Police to remove certain articles such as knives and guns from our borough streets, it’s a tool that when used correctly can help us all to feel safer.
Check out our guide to stop and search, also make a note of our Top Tips, you never know when they could be useful.
What is Stop and Account?
Stop and Account is when an officer of the law stops you and asks you to give reasons for being in a certain area.
Who can carry out a Stop and Account?
A Police officer (uniformed or a non-uniformed officer who shows you their identity card) or a PCSO (uniformed)
It’s a conversation, nothing more. Treat it like one, then have a great day.
What is Stop and Search?
Stop and Search is when an officer of the law stops and searches you as they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you are carrying:
- Drugs, weapons or stolen property. - Items which could be used to carry out a crime. - The officer must explain this to you and must be searching for weapons or items which could be used in connection with violence. - A screening (knife) arch is not a stop and search. You cant be forced to go through but a refusal could result in further Police action or even a full search.
Note: An officer can confiscate cigarettes or alcohol in view (even if it is in a container) if you are underage. This does not count as a stop and search.
This is a hard one. Being stopped and searched can be more than an inconvenience, it can feel like a violation. But remember, the police are there to protect you from some of the things listed above. They can also protect you from yourselves i.e. young people targeting other young people. Our Top Tip is be patient, if you feel as though the officer has taken liberties then consider making a complaint.
What gets recorded?
Your ethnicity, the date and time you were stopped and the officers name and details. (You do not have to give your name or address)
You don’t have to give your name or address, true, but often this leads officers to ask more questions about you than they originally intended (or you want). But ask yourself, what does it matter anyway? The truth is you give away more personal data on social media networks than is commonly recorded on a stop and search reciept.
How should a stop and search be carried out?
Before you are searched the officer must take steps to ensure that you understand:
- That you must wait to be searched. - What law they are using and your rights. - Why they have stopped you. - What they are looking for. - Your right to a receipt.
They should also tell you:
- Their name and ID number. - The station they work out.
You can be asked to take off more than your outer coat, jacket or gloves. The police have the powers to ask you to take off any religious garments such as a face scarf or veil and also a turban. These items should only be removed once you have been taken somewhere where you are out of public view.
What if you are in a vehicle?
Your vehicle can be stopped by an officer at any time and you (the driver) may be asked to show your driving documents. If searched or asked to account for yourself you must receive a record or receipt.
The officer should treat you fairly and with respect. If you are unhappy with how you were treated you can complain. If you feel you were treated differently because of your race, age, sexual orientation, religion or disability. It will help if you keep the receipt that the police gave you.
? You can get advice on how to make a complaint from;? ? A police station? ? Stop and Search Monitoring Group? ? Your local police authority? ? A citizens advice bureau? ? The independent police complaints commissions? ? The equality or human rights commission
What can you do if you are unhappy about how you were treated?
When searched you have the right to a receipt and the officer must record the following details:
- Your name or a description of you (only if you are searched) - Your ethnic background. - When or where you were stopped or searched. - Why you were stopped or searched. - If they are taking any action against you. - The names and/or numbers of the officers. - If you were searched what they were looking for and what they found.
The officer will ask you for your name, address and date of birth. You do not have to give these unless you are being arrested or reported for an offence.
Do I have a right to a recieipt?
Understanding your rights will help you to remain calm when dealing with the Police. Knowledge is Power it’s an oldie but very true.
The officer should treat you fairly and with respect. If you are unhappy with how you were treated you have the right to complain. If you feel you were treated differently because of your race, age, sexual orientation, religion or disability. It will help if you keep the receipt of the search.
You can get advice on how to make a complaint from:
- This website! - Your local police station - A citizens advice bureau - The independent police complaints commission.