Stop and search powers
Stop and search powers

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Stop and search powers
  • Statutory powers to stop and search
  • Minimum requirements of conduct during a search
  • Steps to be taken before search
  • Record of search
  • Monitoring the use of stop and search powers

Familiarity with stop and search powers is important because where a search leads to an arrest, the legality of the stop and search that preceded it can have an impact on the admissibility of evidence and, in the case of assault on a police officer, on the defence that is raised.

The statutory powers are an incursion temporarily into the freedom of the individual and so the intrusion on the liberty of the person stopped or searched must be brief.

PACE Code A makes it clear that:

Powers to stop and search must be used fairly, responsibly, with respect for people being searched and without unlawful discrimination. Under the Equality Act 2010, section 149, when police officers are carrying out their functions, they also have a duty to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to advance equality of opportunity between people who share a 'relevant protected characteristic' and people who do not share it, and to take steps to foster good relations between those persons

An officer must not carry out a search where no statutory power exists, even if the person consents to the search.

Statutory powers to stop and search

There are two types of power: those that require a reasonable suspicion prior to the search and those that do not.

Section 1 of the Police