Stop and search index

Stop and search

1 What do we mean by stop and search?
2 When is stop and search used?
3 Why does it matter how the police use stop and search?
3.1 Value of using the powers appropriately
3.2 Potential consequences of using the powers incorrectly
4 What is fair and effective stop and search?


1 Why does fair matter?
2 What does fair mean in the context of stop and search?
2.1 It is never appropriate to stop and/or search a person on the basis of protected characteristics
2.2 The decision to stop and search a person must be based on objective factors
2.2.1 Reasonable grounds for suspicion Personal factors can never support reasonable grounds for suspicion Reasonable grounds for suspicion based on information or intelligence Reasonable grounds for suspicion not based on information or intelligence
2.2.2 Applying no suspicion search powers in an objective way
2.3 Biases in decision making should be recognised and challenged


1 Why does legal matter?
2 What does legal mean in the context of stop and search?

Legal basis

1 Human rights check – I
2 Powers requiring reasonable grounds for suspicion
2.1 Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
2.2 Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
2.2.1 The smell of cannabis as sole ground for a search
2.2.2 Guidance for practitioners conducting and supervising searches
2.2.3 Guidance for senior leaders
2.3 The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016
2.4 Other stop and search powers
3 Powers requiring the existence of preconditions
3.1 Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
3.1.1 What are section 60 powers?
3.1.2 Senior officer authorisation
3.1.3 Officer use of section 60 powers
3.2 Powers to search persons when searching premises
3.2.1 Section 139B Criminal Justice Act 1988
3.2.2 Section 23(3) Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
4 Powers akin to stop and search
4.1 Vehicle stops under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988
4.2 Police Reform Act 2002 powers to search for and seize alcohol and tobacco
5 Stop and account

Legal application

1 Human rights check – II
2 Most proportionate: decision to search
3 Most proportionate: detention for the purpose of search
4 Most proportionate: the search
4.1 General principles
4.2 No more than JOG in public
4.3 More thorough search out of public view
4.4 Search involving exposure of intimate parts of the body
4.5 Intimate search – only post-arrest


1 Why does professional matter?
2 What does professional mean in the context of stop and search?
2.1 Comply with professional standards of conduct
2.2 Communicate effectively
2.3 Treat people with dignity and respect
2.3.1 Vulnerable people
2.3.2 Children
2.4 Respond appropriately to dissatisfaction


1 Why does transparent matter?
2 What does transparent mean in the context of stop and search?
2.1 Accurate recording of individual encounters
2.1.1 Stop and search The record Mandatory details Recording the legal basis for the search Using body-worn video to record information Procedural requirements
2.1.2 Other types of encounters: local monitoring of disproportionality Detained for search but search does not take place Stop and account Section 163 Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA) and Police Reform Act 2002 (PRA) powers
2.2 Supervision and monitoring
2.2.1 Understanding disproportionality
2.2.2 Understanding effectiveness
2.2.3 Monitoring at supervisor level
2.2.4 Monitoring at senior officer and force data level
2.3 Public scrutiny
2.3.1 Community scrutiny
2.3.2 Complaints

Quick access tools


1 Quick reference guide: fair
2 Quick reference guides: legal
2.1 Quick reference guide: legal basis
2.2 Quick reference guide: legal application – applying the power lawfully
2.3 Quick reference guide: legal application – search options: three levels of intrusiveness
3 Quick reference guide: professional
4 Quick reference guide: transparent

Supervisors and senior officers

1 Quick reference guide: supervisors
2 Quick reference guide: senior officers

The evidence base



2.1 Stop and search
2.2 Fair
2.3 Legal
2.4 Legal basis
2.5 Professional
2.6 Transparent