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Stop and search

Stop and search powers allow the police to combat street crime, anti-social behaviour, and prevent more serious crimes. Stop and Search can help the police detect crime and make our communities safer.

What is a ‘stop’?

A ‘stop’ (or stop and account) is when a police officer or police community support officer stops you and asks you to account for yourself. That is, if they ask you to tell them:

  • what you are doing;
  • why you are in an area or where you are going; or
  • what you are carrying.

A police community support officer must be in uniform, but a police officer does not have to be.

The officer does not need to make a record of this encounter.

Not every time a police officer or police community support officer talks to you will count as a stop. For example, if the officer

  • is looking for witnesses;
  • asks you for general information about an incident; or
  • is giving you directions.

An officer can stop and talk to you at any time. But should only search you if they suspect you are carrying:

  • drugs;
  • weapons;
  • stolen property; or
  • tools which could be used to commit a crime.