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Stop and Search

What is stop and search?

An officer can stop and search you if they have a genuine suspicion in their mind that items that could be used to commit crime or are evidence of an offence (such as stolen property or weapons) will be found on you. Their suspicion must seem reasonable to an independent observer.

Being stopped and searched doesn't mean you're under arrest or have necessarily done anything wrong. It doesn't mean you will have a criminal record.

They must be able to explain what information or behaviour has caused them to be suspicious and stop and search you.

Staffordshire Police's Stop and Search Performance: 
Previous 12 Months [194KB]

A fair and effective stop and search

  • The search is justified, lawful and stands up to public scrutiny
  • The officer has genuine and objectively reasonable suspicion they will find a prohibited article or item for use in crime 
  • You understand why you have been searched and feel you have been treated with respect
  • The search was necessary and was the most proportionate method the police officer could use to establish whether you have such an item 

You can find out more information on the definition of a fair and effective stop and search encounter by visiting the College of Policing website.

Your rights

If you are stopped and searched, you should be told:

  • Why you are being stopped and/or searched
  • The officer's name and the station they are based at
  • What power they have used to stop you
  • You should be treated in a professional manner, with dignity and respect. 

If an officer needs to remove more than your jacket, outer coat or gloves, footwear or headgear, you will be taken somewhere out of public view. This could include a police vehicle or police station and, if the search involves the removal of more than footwear or headgear it will be done in the presence of an officer who is the same sex as you.

You don't have to give the officer your personal details even if they ask for them. You will be offered a record of the search.

The law

An officer needs reasonable grounds to stop and search you. They should genuinely suspect you have an item in your possession. The grounds for the search and the object of the search must be explained to you fully.

You should not be stopped because of your age, race, ethnicity, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation, disability, the language you speak or because you have committed offences before.


If you are unhappy with the way you have been treated, you can make an official complaint to Staffordshire Police via this link.

Stop and Search Explained

As part of our efforts to continuously improve services to the communities of Staffordshire we have changed our stop and search procedures and practices to make it more fair and effective to help increase public confidence. Here is all you need to know about Stop and Search.

Your Rights and Responsibilities

What are my rights?

  • The officers searching you must use the stop and search powers fairly, responsibly and with respect for people without discriminating.
  • If English is not your first language, and you do not understand why you have been stopped, reasonable steps must be taken to provide you with information in your own language.
  • The officer must make sure that the search time is kept to a minimum.
  • The search must take place near where you are stopped, except in instances where moving you would protect your privacy.
  • The officer does not have the power to stop you in order to find grounds for a search.
  • A more comprehensive guide to all your rights when you are stopped and searched is contained on the Home Office website.

Your right to complain

If you are unhappy with how you were treated, you can complain. You can also complain if you feel you were treated differently because of your race, age, sexuality, gender, disability, religion or faith. Click here for How to Make a Complaint.

Public Enquiry Desk StaffordWhat are my responsibilities?

Everyone has a civic duty to help police officers prevent crime and catch offenders. The fact that the police may have stopped someone does not mean they are guilty of an offence.

Apart from the inconvenience, people may feel irritated that they've been stopped when they haven't done anything wrong - that's completely understandable. However, the top or top and search will be much quicker if a person co-operates with police officers.

Don't forget that the stop or stop and search must be carried out according to strict rules - the police have responsibility to ensure that people's rights are protected. Everyone should expect to be treated fairly and responsibly.

In almost all cases, an individual should be offered a receipt of the stop and search at the time it happens (unless operational commitments prevent this). The police use these powers to help make the local community safer by disrupting crime - public co-operation is an essential part of that.

Requesting Your Stop and Search Record

You will receive a receipt card if you wish. If your require a record of your stop and search this can be obtained by going to your local police station (for opening times).

You must have a form of ID with you. This can be for example:

  • driving licence
  • passport
  • student ID card

You have three months from the stop and search to ask for a copy of the search.

Stop & Search - How to Complain

Officers Talking in Street PublicWe expect officers to be polite and respectful at all times and all stops and searches must be carried out with courtesy, consideration and respect. stop and search powers must only be used fairly, responsibly and without discrimination.

If you were unhappy with how you were treated, you can complain. You can also make a complaint if you feel you were treated differently because of your race, age, sexuality, gender, disability, religion or faith.

We value feedback - both positive and negative - as this helps us to identify the things we do well and any areas that we may need to improve. Visit Contact Us to make a complaint or commendation.

Alternatively, if you have any other feedback you would like to give us about a stop and search please use the Stop and Search Feedback form.

Stop and Search Community Triggers Explained

What is it?

This is a process which allows members of the community to access services such as:

  • ask for a review
  • to provide feedback
  • to seek investigation
  • to give reassurance as to the way Stop and Search is used in their community

The trigger is designed to ensure we work together to try and resolve any complaints or concerns. The trigger does not replace the complaints procedure, or your opportunity to complain to the Performance and Standards Unit or Independent Police Complaints Commission. It can be used by anyone who has been stopped and searched, anyone who has witnessed it, anyone who is reporting on behalf of another who has, or anyone who has concerns about the use of stop and search.

How do I trigger?

To use the community trigger you can either email Staffordshire Police, telephone 101 or if you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, key smsdeaf to 07929 302010, visit the Deaf SMS page or write a letter to:

The Force Stop and Search Working Group,
Staffordshire Police Headquarters,
Weston Road, Stafford,
ST18 0YY.

You will need to provide sufficient information to assess your concerns. You can report issues anonymously if you wish. If you have an ongoing complaint that is already being dealt with by Staffordshire Police, then contact should be made with the Performance and Standards Unit.

What can I expect?

The matter will be referred to the senior officer who chairs the Force Working Group on stop and search, who will assess the best method of addressing the issues raised. The issue may be passed to the Local Police Commander, to the Performance and Standards Unit, subject of a specific investigation, research or action. If you provide contact details then feedback will be given in all cases, and all issues reported via the community trigger process will be shared (subject to the removal of personal data) to the Local Policing Scrutiny panels to ensure further openness and community oversight.