Thursday, 6 November 2008

Stop and Search... know your rights!

For a good overview of your rights if the police want to stop and search you, have a look at Liberty's guide here.

The Home Office also have guidance on it here, or have a look at the West Midlands Police's guidance here.

It's also worth reading an excellent guide published by the Home Office called "Stop and Search Explained - how police powers work in the community". And have a look at this video for a variety of views on using stop and search!

Also, have a look at Code A which governs stop and search under PACE 1984 here.

It's interesting to note that despite the extensive powers available to the police under s60 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the government want to extend police powers to stop and search without a reason still further for 24 hour periods where they believe serious crime is being committed.

Is this a step too far? Have a look at the above article. Do you share David Cameron's confidence that it will not damage community relations? AS students - your views please! Make a comment below.


  1. i think that already the police have enough power for stop and search and allowing them to stop and search without having to report will give them perfect opportunity to abuse the powers even further than they already do.Also if there is an unlawful search the public will have no access to documents about the search and the police will not have to have reasonable suspicion for the search. Maryiam Akram

  2. Declan Campbell -

    I agree that the forms are a waste of police time as they have better things to be doing than filling in forms. However, by not filling in the forms there is more chance of police abusing their powers as the citizen will not have a record of the stop and search.

    I think that to not have a reason for a stop and search could be beneficial as it would be a deterant for drug use and gun and knife crime because citizens not acting suspicously but carrying weapons or drugs may be stopped and searched. However, again police would have more chance to abuse their rights and may be more able to discriminate against citizens as they do not have to give any reason for stopping and searching them.

    I think it would possibly be a good idea to leave a 24 hour gap where police can stop and search citizens within an area because it will reduce crime at events; such as football games etc.

    Declan Campbell

  3. I believe that the police officers shouldn’t be given the right to stop and search people without a reason. I think this because I believe some officers are likely to search a certain type of person and use the powers to their own advantage.
    Also, I think if it is brought in that the police are allowed these powers, there wouldn’t be a point of filling out the form because there would be no reason to complain against the search as it would be in the policeman’s power.
    However, should the PACE Act stay as it is, I think it is important the form is still completed.

    Sarah Lapsley

  4. Stop and search is a vital part of our legal system, as a precautionary measure to protect the public, it can lead to arrest, seizure of dangerous items and prevention of crime.
    Although, I believe that stop and search can only work effectively if a written record of the incident is produced.
    Politicians believe that these written records are a “colossal waste of time” and that the police are too scared of the reports meaning they are too scared to approach anyone. On the contrary, evidence shows that before 1999, 900,000 people were stopped and searched unnecessarily. This figure is huge just showing that the police actually do stop and search a large number, regardless of the reports they have to fill out.
    Reports are used as evidence to back up a stop and search complaints. David Cameron is utterly wrong to try and get rid of the reports as the number of complaints keep going up. Watchdog recorded that in the last year “complaints have risen by a quarter”. Obviously, people are unhappy about the way the police conduct stop and search to complain in the first place. Stop and search currently is hurting more people than it is helping them and by removing all records of this will allow members of the police to abuse their power, be rude, harass ethnic minorities and get away with it.
    I think the only reason politicians are prying into this area of law is to make themselves look good and have forgotten the real reason of stop and search: to protect the public not the police force. May be it would be better to train police on how to recognise “suspicious” behaviour effectively and not to waste their time on innocent people and as a result reducing the amounts of reports needed to be written.
    Natalie Saville

  5. Syed:

    I feel it is a step in a direction which can be seen as a step forward but in some ways of thinking it is a bit over the top in terms of security and getting to a point very bluntly. it is a good thing to increase stop and searches but a level of interferance which is being put forward is a bit too extreme and the scrapping of the written documents is very unecessarry and the wrong idea. it is vital the documents are kept in place for the safety of the people concerned as they have a right to the know what can be done in the circumstances when needed. overall increasing stop and searches is a good idea but to an extent and certain issues need to be addressed

  6. Syed:

    The stop and search new rules which are trying to be put into place are a bit extreeme in some cases. its a good thing they are trying to improve the lifes and security but there is a limit to invading people also. Stop and searches are all well and good but giving the power to search anytime can be very disturbing. some issues also such as scrapping the written documents are not very clever. they are help for calculting figures of searches and also a copy for the person concerned to help them in situations when needed such as evidence of the search carried out.

  7. I don't think police should have the power to stop and search for no specific reason. Experiencing a stop and search is invasive enough with a reason, I think that if the police can stop without reason they will soon lose all respect, nobody will want to approach police with fear of them wanting to search. Even though police do have power and authority over us, we are still entitled to some extent of privacy, and making it so that police can stop and search without reason completely abolishes those rights.

    Plus, there is always the chance of police using this to abuse their powers. It could end up with police stopping and searching someone just because they don't like the look of someone. Or, police could stop and search someone just because of their race, religion, gender or age. Which isn't right and shouldn't be legal.

    Catherine Dease

  8. "Prime Minister Gordon Brown is planning to give police the power to stop and search people without giving a reason, sources have told the BBC."

    I dont think police should have this much power because it is likely police start abusing there powers.

    Also citizens might be offended if they get stopped and searched for no reason and some might find they ae being picked on because of there race...


  9. I don't believe these extra powers are needed simply because it will allow the police to miss use their powers even more than,than they are doing mow.

    I do not hava a direct musjustice of stop and search, but many of my black male friends have on several occassions and feel they have been targeted for no reason.
    Therefore if the police to get to stop and search wothout a friends will be stoped 2 times more than they are stop now
    which is COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS!!!!!!!

  10. I think that if the police are given any more powers then they already have will mean that they are more likely to abuse the power and control they have. As they would would have the ability to stop and search who ever they wish when ever they wish without a reason, and so its more likely that people will be discriminated against race etc.

    And if they stopped recording the stop and searches they have done, this wouldnt be a good idea as they would have no records of who they stopped and why. So this could cause unneccesary arguing and conflicts...


  11. I think police should be allowed to stop and search citizens without a reason as it would lead to a decrease in the number of illegal weapons (knives) that are being carried around by todays youngsters however it should not be allowed as it would allow the police to abuse their powers which may lead to people that are actually innocent in beliving that the police are not really part of the community to help us but to accuse innocent people of things they may not even be capable off which can lead to citizens loosing trust and security in the police force.

    I also think that there should be a record of all incdents that have occured as if any comlaint were to be made about how a person was treated it can always get looked at quickly and their will be a clear reason for why someone had been stopped and searched and also if a record is kept it can help with statistics and show the rest of the world how incidents such as knife and gun crime are either increasing or decreasing as a record will be kept of all of the times a person is stopped and searched for this.


  12. I do think the police need more power but their power should still be controled. If they are allowed to stop and search without reason, they could begin to abuse their power and target specific races and religions.

    This could lead to a community distrusting the police force and therefore refuse to help.

    Gary Molloy

  13. Well due to the lack of police forces activly patrolling the streets people believe that the force is doing very little in completing its main role that is to protect and serve the public. instead they are filling in paper work in offices etc...

    However, i can understand that communities may be offended if they are stopped and searched. but to be honest i dont think the police force are activly trying to stop and search young males from ethnic minorities because they are busy as it is and they would only stop and search people if the felt it was nessisary or was a danger to the communities. if i was the police service i was activly try to recruit people of various races so people would not feel that way if they got stopped and searched.

    In some way they are slightly helpful as weapons are consistantly being removed from the streets and if just one gun is removed from the streets of britain i would say that is a job well done as it would consequently lead to someones life being saved.

  14. I believe granting police extra powers is unnecessary, ive seen many a situation with freinds where police disrespect youngsters due to there age and further power will add to there arrogance.

    In my opinion stop and search is already intrusive and in some circumstances embarrasing, and to allow the police to do this without reason will mean more frequent stop and searches, which could make people avoid police and in some ways fear them.It also means a Race or religion issues may arise as teh statistics already say they target people of ethnicitys other than white.

  15. I think the stop and search has its own advantages, such as stopping drug and gun crimes. But to some extend, it is not appropriate to give the police too much power, i.e stop and search someone they hate.

    Currently, i think the police have been giving some reasonable powers to do the stop and search under the Terrorism Act 2000, because it is better to have a tight security to stop these crime happening. But if these crime haven't stop, the blame will still goes to the police for their lack of duties.

    Overall, I think the powers should be giving to more experienced officers, rather than newly trained one, because experienced officer might not abuse the power whereas a newly trained one will. So this method might stop some policeabuse the power.

  16. First and foremost, let me establish the fact that Stop and Search can be a very useful tool in the Police service's armory to battle against certain times of crime, such as drug related or weapon related crimes, the ability to Stop and Search someone who falls under reasonable grounds for suspicion,for which guidelines are provided for under sections 1-7 of PACE and under Code of Practice A is great. However not all people follow the guidelines and that is where problems problems arise.
    In recent years, however the Stop and Search approach has been lamented due to the police's very apparent eagerness to target ethnic minorities, according to statistics members of the black community are a quite staggering 6 times more likely to be Stopped and Searched than white people, and members of the Asian community are almost twice as likely to be stopped than white people, many people from these communities and other people who have been stopped and searched often find many reasons to complaint, therefore Mr Cameron's proposal to 'to scrap the stop and account' forms needed to be filled our by Officers is utterly stupid to say the least. Just another reason to not put the Conservative's in government really. Is he really proposing that the Police be able to do what ever they want without, ever being held accountable?
    Again with the government in the process of increasing Police Powers to the extent of them not having to give a reason as to why someone has been stopped, would it really be a good idea to rid the Police of all accountability? Additionally a move like that could further erode the confidence of the ethnic minorities have in the Police.
    Slowly but surely the freedom of the nation is being curbed, these proposals can be considered as just another step in the wrong direction

  17. i don't think the police should be given any extra powers than they already have because they would abuse their powers and just stop people because tehy don't have to provide reasons especially young black males.

  18. I think that the Police should not be able to search without having to report, as they would most likely abuse that power. If they abuse their power and make unlawful searches, then the person who was searched cannot make a complaint as there is no record of their search.

    Although i think that if there has been a serious crime in an area, then the Police should be able to stop and search without reason for 48 hours, because if there is a serious crime then precautions must be taken, and stop and search would be an effective way of making sure that no one could be walking around with a weapon.

    Marianne Kirsop

  19. The police already have a right to stop and search anyone with a reason. so i don't think that they should abuse their powers by stopping someone without a report and reason.on the other hand in extreme circumstances this could be useful to the police and understandable by the community. the police could be seen as steroetyping people as they will only stop and search people who are acting suspicios and maybe even their appearence.

    Asaad Fakir

  20. No, I don't share his cofidence because I believe it will worsen the relationship between many communities and the police. Many people are getting stopped and searched without any real reason at this moment in time so by allowing the police to stop and search without a reason is just given them a platform in which they can go against Code of practice A and it they go against this who's to say that they won't go against the other rules such as what they are allowed to remove and where they are allowed to be removed as they will have gotten rid of the stop and search forms.By them doing this there would be no evidence of them doing their jobs accurately,lawfully and sufficientlty.
    Many communities have a negative views on the police this would further their views.As the police may abuse this power the community will therefore lose the trust in the police and their systmem because of how they are being treated.
    I also disagree with his statement about black and asian kids being stabbed and shot it not only them but its whites too and it isn't getting in the way of protecting them because even if they enforced the rules the police can't search everyone so it wouldn't really make the country any safe.Plus the view on police racism and how it is harming the community instead of helping them is a lot of rubbish because it hasn't really protect the black and asian communities , they are still suffering from racism from police today.
    David Cameron should not have said some of the things he said as he does have to experience some of these things because he comes from a higher class society were stop and search rarely happens so he doesn't know how the police forcescarry out this procedures.

    Josephine Bannerman-Thompson

  21. I think extending police powers may be a usefull tool to fight crime, but it is very likely that these powers will be abused by certain officers. This will lead to relationships with certain communities being damaged. In conclusion the police have enough power as it is so by extending there power this will only lead to damaging certain communitys.

    Adam Ahmed

  22. I believe that police should have powers to stop and search people but only within reason, we need them to be allowed to stop and search people who they feel have commited an offence but this should not be based on racial gronds.

    As for increasing police powers i belive if the police think they need them then they should have them.

    Tom P

  23. In my opinion, the police shouldn't be allowed to stop and search citizens without a reason. This would be extending their powers further when they already have too many. It would give them the opportunity to abuse their powers and carry out unlawful searches that may not be recorded. This would mean that the citizen wouldn't be able to request the details of the search which may be a great disadvantage to them.

    Janine Pancaro

  24. Already figures tell us that ethnic minorities are up to 6 times more likely to be stopped and serached. If police are given more powers to stop and serach in certain areas without suspicion or anything, this figure will rise. Surely, this will lead to tension within the community. Is this the job of the police? Is this fair? Such a power which is not fair should not be given to the police.

    Also, if the police will be given this power then I think poeple will just be hassled unneccessarily specially when they live in a area which has always been known to be a "bad" area. For example, our college is in a area which manyy would describe as this. Imagine if we are searched nearly all the time just because of the area. Such a power does not need to be given to the police.


  25. L Gallagher

    I think police should keep the powers they have at the moment; they should not introduce new powers as they already have strong enough powers for them to do their job effectively.
    Implementing new powers if anything could damage public relations with the police as the public would see them to overreact or treat people unfairly.

    Certain Stop and Search laws such as the section 60 act, are especially effective in certain circumstances such as high profile football matches they can stop violence occurring and keep innocent people safe. If they seriously think serious violence will occur I think they should be given even more powers than section 60 gives. For example the Rangers match last year in Manchester, the police needed much more powers to deal with such a huge number of people and for the police to control it effectively. If they had more powers the events that occurred might never had happened.

  26. matthew Mcdonnell11 November 2008 at 12:55

    Personally accept the idea of allowing police to stop and search someone without a reason as if they want to stop & search you in the 1st place there must be a reason for them to do so in the 1st place as i personally believe that a truly professional police officer will just stop & search any1 they just don’t like

    matthew mcdonnell

    I do consider the other issues like racism and other issues like that but if police don’t match those criteria they shouldn’t be representative of the law

  27. I think that stop and search is a vital part of our legal system with out it there would be no deterrent for potential criminals. I however do think that there is a need for strict guidlines and also there needs to be paper work as with out a written account of the stop and search there could be issuses that are ignored. I also think it helps make the public feel more safe.

    Bethany Secker

  28. I think that this is not right as that would give the police too much power and citizen's have rights. I think even in these circumstances that if a serious crime is commited then they should still have a resonable grounds for suspicion as otherwise it is unfair and it may lead to predjudice in who they search.

    Carmen Kennedy

  29. Police should have the right to stop and search but with reasonable grounds even though i personally think that the police powers have become stronger their is a reason why they have given police these powers as they may want to become more strict on citizens


Please keep comments appropriate and sensible! Thanks.