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If you are stopped by police and searched you have certain rights that must be respected. Read your rights below.

Stop and Search

A police officer can stop and question people. They might ask:

  • Your name
  • What you’re doing
  • Where you’re going

You don’t have to stop or answer any questions. But your co-operation can assist the police in their duties.

A police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:

  • A weapon
  • Stolen property
  • Something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar
  • Illegal drugs

Police officers sometimes have the power to stop and search without reasonable grounds if a ‘Section 60’ has been approved by a senior police officer if it is suspected that:

  • Serious violence could take place
  • You’re carrying a weapon or have used one
  • You’re in a specific location or area

Section 60s cover a specific location for a specific time. For further information see the links at the end of this leaflet.


Being stopped and searched by police can be a very uncomfortable situation but it is important to stay calm and in control.

STAY CALM – It is important that you stay calm and listen to the information the officer is giving you.

EYE CONTACT – Keeping eye contact allows the officer to see you are willing to engage, are focused and paying attention

ASK QUESTIONS – You can ask any question related to the search, it’s important that you and the officer treat it as a conversation.

REFERENCE NUMBER – This is your proof of the search and reasons of the search. If you do not get one take note of the officer’s badge number for future reference.

CONTROL/CONFIDENCE – It is important to stay in control and focused during the search. Have confidence but not arrogance, police officers have a difficult job to do.

HOLD TO ACCOUNT – You should be treated fairly and with respect. For more information on holding to account see the links at the end of this leaflet.


An officer must explain or provide:

GROUNDS FOR SEARCH – Why the officer has stopped YOU

OBJECT OF SEARCH – What the officer thinks they will find on you

WARRANT CARD – If an officer isn’t in uniform but is on duty, they must produce their warrant card before they search you

IDENTITY OF OFFICER – You should always be given the name or ID number of the officer

STATION OF THE OFFICER – You should always be given the name of station of the officer searching you

ENTITLEMENT – If you are searched, but not arrested, you have the right to file a complaint. You do not need a reference number but take note of the officer’s badge number and time of the search – this will help your search to be found quicker