Home > Government & Legislation > Stop, Search and Arrest Rights

Stop, Search and Arrest Rights

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 7 Feb 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Police Stop Search Arrest Rights Suspect

Many people are unaware of their stop, search and arrest rights. The police do have legal powers to stop, search, and arrest but only under certain conditions. However, new legislation means that these conditions have been extended and the police can stop and search without the need to give a reason under special circumstances.

Stop and Search

The police do have powers when it comes to stopping and searching the public. However, the police must have reasonable grounds for suspicion to exercise these powers. The police cannot just stop a person on an instinct or a hunch; there must be grounds to actually stop the person. For instance, if the police observed a person was found to be behaving suspiciously then this could be deemed as reasonable suspicion to stop and search.

Searches and Reasonable Suspicion

If reasonable suspicion is found then the police can stop, question, and search a suspect’s person and vehicle. If the police do stop a member of the public with the intention of searching them the suspect should always ask why they are being searched. If the police cannot give a justifiable reason for the search then the search should not be carried out. If the search continues without justification then a complaint can be made against the police.

The Search Process

There is a set procedure that must be followed by the police when it comes to stopping and searching a member of the public. The police officer must use a warrant card to prove their identity if they are not in uniform. They must also give information on their power to stop and search, provide their name and police station, and why the search is taking place. The police cannot order the removal of clothes in public, although they can search pockets and feel the lining of clothes. Any search that involves the intimate areas of a suspect must be undertaken by a member of the same sex.

Areas of Search

There are a number of different public and private areas where the police can stop and search. These areas are set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). The police can stop and search anywhere that the public has access to or has been given permission of access. The police cannot search a suspect’s home or vehicle if it is on land that is part of the suspect’s home.

Searching For Items

There are a number of different items that the police will usually search for. This can include offensive weapons and articles that are deemed to be in some way connected to criminal activity. They may also stop and search vehicles if they suspect that they have been taken without permission. A more common stop and search reason is if the police suspect that a member of the public is carrying controlled drugs.

New Stop and Search Laws

New legislation has been brought in that gives the police extended powers when it comes to the stop and search procedure. Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 a Chief Constable can designate certain areas as stop and search areas. This means that the police can use stop and search powers without the need for any reasonable suspicion. In the past section 44 has been used within peaceful public protests. At the moment the whole of London is a designated area for stop and search under section 44.

Arrest Rights

In 2006 the rights of who the police could and couldn’t arrest underwent a change. Before 2006 the police in England and Wales only had the power to arrest people they suspected of committing very serious offences that would result in at least a five year sentence. Now the police can arrest anyone they suspect of committing an indictable offence. This is an offence that can be taken before a crown court with a jury present.

Indictable offences will include theft, assault or criminal damage. However, the police must still have reasonable suspicion that a member of the public is committing or is about to commit an indictable offence before an arrest can take place.

The police have recently been granted greater powers when it comes to stop, search, and arrest. But this does not eliminate the public rights when it comes to this procedure. Any abuse of the public’s rights can be seen as unlawful and the police can face prosecution and disciplinary procedures if they have abused a suspect’s rights.

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[Add a Comment]
Robbie-bear - Your Question:
My sons friends parents recieved calls yesterday from the police, asking if they could interview their children at school.The following day the children were interviewed at school, asking questions about my son, who is 14 over a drug related Offence?Question -Although the police asked the parents for permission to interview their children, apparently the children were interviewed with only the police present in the room, without a guardian.Is this lawful????????

Our Response:
We think an appropriate adult is required in this instance unless the parents consented otherwise.
CivilRightsMovement - 9-Feb-17 @ 11:49 AM
My sons friends parents recieved calls yesterday from the police, asking if they could interview their children at school. The following day the children were interviewed at school, asking questions about my son, who is 14 over a drug related Offence?. Question - Although the police asked the parents for permission to interview their children, apparently the children were interviewedwith only the police present in the room, without a guardian. Is this lawful????????
Robbie-bear - 7-Feb-17 @ 7:07 PM
My son is 21 now he was sentenced to 4 year's and has been in jail for 2 years for burglary in 2014 when he was 18 hes recently returned home with a better attitude he's gotten himself a job but I have the leeds police burglary squad at my house at all hours everyday sometimes more than once asking for my son just to chat & joke around with him about crimes are they allowed to do this as he has a probation officer & a designated police officer that is in contact with him while he's still on licence
Jill - 11-Nov-16 @ 7:46 PM
My son is 21 now he was sentenced to 4 year's and has been in jail for 2 years for burglary in 2014 when he was 18 hes recently returned home with a better attitude he's gotten himself a job but I have the leeds police burglary squad at my house at all hours everyday sometimes more than once asking for my son just to chat & joke around with him about crimes
Jill - 11-Nov-16 @ 7:40 PM
Trac - Your Question:
My 15 year old boy has got to go to the police station as a 15 yearvold reckon he sexually asulted her what will happen if he is found guilty

Our Response:
This will depend on the circumstances - the penalty can be up to two years imprisonment.
CivilRightsMovement - 2-Jun-16 @ 12:44 PM
My 15year old boy has got to go to the police station as a 15 yearvold reckon he sexually asulted her what will happen if he is found guilty
Trac - 1-Jun-16 @ 7:29 PM
I was stopped by the police because of a concerned citizen call. I was parked at a local target store, and while parked in the parking lot the police approached me and made contact with me. During which without anything said they asked me to exit the truck because of suspect DUI. After I passed breathalyzer, and field sobriety test, that asked to searched my car and I denied the search saying I needed to goto work. And forced my hand by saying "they will bring the drug dog if I don't allow the search" isn't that unconstitutional? Plus at the station I refused the blood and urin test, and the officer once again forced my hand by saying that I will be prosecuted for refusal of the test and I will stay in jail till my court date. Now the supreme Court of Minnesota ruled in favor of defense that it is a violation of ones civil rights if the officer intimates or threatens defendants of the refusal of test if the defendants choose not to take the test and the supreme Court ruled in favor of the defendants and the case was dismissed. Now I live in Corcoran, Minnesota what is my opinions for defense.
Jj - 18-Mar-16 @ 8:32 AM
I arrived home last night whilst carrying my 5 year old to find 4 police men in my house whom had arrested my 19 year old son and was thenin custody. My 21 year old son who was home alone had 4 policemen in his bedroom, handcuffed and bleeding at his wrists. I asked the police why my son was bleeding and cuffed, no response, but my son said because they wanted to search him. I refused to leave my 21 year old alone with them note he does not have a criminal record and is a manager within a restaurant. Is this legal? They removed the cuffs without arrest nor search of him,
Azania - 9-Mar-16 @ 10:44 AM
More proof (not that anymore is needed) that the people of the U.K live in a overbearing, nanny\police state. Anybody who is under the impression they could refuse a search by the police, is not living in the real world.Many police officers believe the only justification needed for a stop\search is their own say so, if there is no reason for the search, then because the law is so heavily weighted in their favour, it's easy to make up an excuse. The list of innocuous things that can be twisted to look suspicious is endless.
Monnia - 29-Jan-16 @ 11:25 AM
Merv- Your Question:
I would like to know what are my chances of bringing a successful prosecution against the police for an illegal stop and search ill quick run down at 23:00 on a Saturday night I was walking through Brixton heading towards the railway station I briefly stopped at tube station to listen to street performer playing bass for about 5 minutes I them went to off licence but didn't have the beer that I wanted so I walked a little future when suddenly I felt a hand grab me it was a woman and she immediately placed a handcuff in me followed by the other handcuff I to what are you doing and who are you they said police and I asked for ID asking why am I handcuffed they said they had been observing me for some time looking at women at ATM machines which was load of rubbish they then search me in the middle of street I ask what are you looking for no answer they run my name which took about 5 minutes they took the handcuffs off and simply walked away is this legal

Our Response:
The police can stop you at any time and ask you: what you’re doing, why you’re in an area and/or where you’re going. (You don’t have to answer any questions the police officer asks you).
They can search you if:
"they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:
illegal drugs
a weapon
stolen property
something which could be used to commit a crime, eg a crowbar
If you feel you have been stopped unjustly you can make a complaint to the IPCC.
CivilRightsMovement - 28-Jan-16 @ 2:39 PM
I would like to know what are my chances of bringing a successful prosecution against the police for an illegal stop and search ill quick run down at 23:00 on a Saturday night I was walking through Brixton heading towards the railway station I briefly stopped at tube station to listen to street performer playing bass for about 5 minutes I them went to off licence but didn't have the beer that I wanted so I walked a little future when suddenly I felt a hand grab me it was a woman and she immediately placed a handcuff in me followed by the other handcuff I to what are you doing and who are you they said police and I asked for ID asking why am I handcuffed they said they had been observing me for some time looking at women at ATM machines which was load of rubbish they then search me in the middle of street I ask what are you looking for no answer they run my name which took about 5 minutes they took the handcuffs off and simply walked away is this legal
Merv - 28-Jan-16 @ 5:07 AM
The police drove past me and my mates with the window up, as we walked up this road they were coming down the same vehicle, the officer then got out and said he could smell cannabis he stopped and searched us and found nothing can we refuse the stop and search if this situation is to happen again?
deano - 18-Jul-15 @ 12:12 PM
@annie. As long as an appropriate adult accompanies her she can be interviewed.
CivilRightsMovement - 23-Mar-15 @ 2:45 PM
My foster child is to attend police interview she is 16 years of age can I or anther appropraite adult accompany her to this interview her age chronologically is 16 however she is mentally around 12
Annie - 20-Mar-15 @ 9:25 AM
Can a cop come to my door by himself and charge me with something, read me my rights then say that's all and leave again this sounds suspicious to me???
ilovecops - 9-Aug-14 @ 9:17 PM
most of the time when stopped by police i am asked to get out of my vehicle even if i had done nothing wrong . is it againist the law to refuse to get out of the car . is it within the law to be arrested of doing nothing , if you resistsuch arrest are you comitting an offence . thank you please will be waiting for your comments
lovejoy - 4-Aug-14 @ 5:04 PM
I Need Help Finding A Lawyer That Will Do Pro Bono Or Will Work With Me On Payment, With 2 Of My Under Agee Bous That Got Into Trouble With The Law And Is Arrested.
Stephanie Castillo - 24-Jun-14 @ 6:38 PM
this is some great info thanks :)
Jordie72606 - 18-Sep-12 @ 1:08 PM
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