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It’s important that you're aware of your rights and responsibilities in the event of a stop and search.
Officers are responsible for making sure that your rights are protected, and, in turn, they expect members of the public to acknowledge their responsibilities and comply with their requests in a reasonable and calm manner.
Here are the main rights that protect you:
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 stop or stop and search will be much quicker if a person cooperates with police officers.
Remember that the stop or stop and search must be carried out according to strict rules – the police have the responsibility to ensure that people’s rights are protected.
The police are aware that being searched is an inconvenience and that you’re probably in a hurry to get where you're going. They should make the search as brief as possible. But in the interest of public safety they must also be thorough.
Being stopped doesn't mean you're under arrest or have done anything wrong. A police officer must have a good reason for stopping and/or searching you and they are required to tell you what that reason is.
In some cases, people are stopped as part of a wide-ranging effort to catch criminals in a targeted public place. These powers fall under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, section 60. The officer should explain this to you and must be searching for items to be used in connection with violence.
You should not be stopped just because of your age, race, ethnic background, nationality, faith, the language you speak or because you have committed a crime in the past.
The police can stop or stop and search you or a vehicle: