What is stop and search? Watch our video to find out.


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.

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.

Feedback and advice

You should be treated in a professional manner, with dignity and respect. If you are unhappy with the way you’ve been treated please contact us on 0800 40 50 40 or email stopsearch@btp.pnn.police.uk

Working with others

We recognise it is important to involve the community in monitoring our use of stop and search powers. We hold regular public consultation meetings that allow attendees to review our stop searches from across the nation, providing input, guidance and recommendations from a public perspective. To find out more about this process or if you would like to attend our public consultation meetings, email stopsearch@btp.pnn.police.uk

Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock, who is the National Police Chief’s council strategic lead on stop and search, chairs regular meetings with senior officers from other police forces focusing on stop and search. Best practice and lessons learned are shared to ensure our service is consistent. 

Police Patrol Observation Scheme - on hold

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, please note that the Police Patrol Observation Scheme will be on hold until the situation eases.

If you have any queries, please email btp-volunteers@btp.pnn.police.uk

Our Police Patrol Observation Scheme provides you with the opportunity to follow police officers for a single shift. It is open to applicants aged 16 and above. Whether you are thinking about a job working with the police or you have a general interest in the day to day work that we do, the Police Patrol Observation Scheme is an excellent way to find out. To find out more please contact us at BTP-Volunteers@btp.pnn.police.uk.

Before being offered a Patrol Observation, applicants will undergo a number of checks. Having an offence on record will not automatically exclude you from taking part - each applicant will be treated on a case by case basis. If you are successful, you will be contacted by a member of staff from one of the teams who will arrange the observation with you.

All Patrol Observation experiences are risk-assessed to ensure that your personal safety is not compromised.

Stop and Account

A Stop and Account is when a police officer or PCSO stops you and asks you to account for your:

  • Actions
  • Behaviour
  • Presence in an area
  • Possession of an item

Officers have no power to detain you in order to conduct a Stop and Account and are expected to make a record of all Stop and Accounts in their pocket notebook.

Our officers, working with the Metropolitan Police, are required to record Stop and Accounts on the force intelligence system. This was ratified by our Independent Community Advisors who want to be able to monitor who was getting stopped by the police. Outside of London our Community Groups had no such issues.

If you require information on this page to be provided in Welsh language then please contact stopsearch@btp.pnn.police.uk. We will be unable to provide any of the information that is regularly updated but would be happy to discuss your needs on a case by case basis.

Contact Us

To report a crime or incident, call

0800 40 50 40

or text 61016

In an emergency call 999