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What is a Stop and Search?

Stop and search information.

Stop and search is when a police officer stops and then searches you, your clothes and anything you are carrying. Only a police officer can stop and carry out a search.

PCSO Neil Williams 16301 Incident VanVEHICLE - a police officer can stop any vehicle and ask the driver for driving documents. This is not a stop and search, but you may be given documentation relevant to road traffic matters. It becomes a stop and search if you or any of the occupants or the vehicle are then searched.

You will not necessarily be searched every time you are stopped. Sometimes you may just be stopped and questioned.

You may be stopped if the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you could be carrying something of relevance for example:

  • drugs
  • weapons
  • stolen property
  • items that could be used to commit crime or cause criminal damage
  • because of the way you are behaving

There are times, however, when police officers can search anyone within a certain area, for example:

The powers of 'stop and search' must be used fairly, responsibly, with respect for people being searched and without unlawful discrimination. The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for police officers to discriminate against, harass or victimise any person on the grounds of the 'protected characteristics' of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity when using their powers.

When police forces are carrying out their functions they also have a duty to have regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and to take steps to foster good relations.

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.