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Police Powers to Stop and Search an Individual

Date Added: November 22, 2007 01:16:20 AM

The Police have several powers to stop and search individuals both on the street and at the Police Station. The powers to do this are given in acts of Parliament, mainly in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).

Where can an individual be stopped?

An individual can be stopped in several places, providing they are for public use. Parks, the street, the cinema are all examples of legal places. This is stated in section 1.1 of PACE.

Section 1.4 of PACE states that Police Officers cannot stop and individual in a dwelling, unless they have reasonable suspicion that they do not have permission to be there.

Who can they stop and search?

Section 1.2 of PACE gives details on which individuals can be stopped and searched. The Police can search any person or vehicle that they believe is carrying stolen or phohibited articles.

Code A states that the Police must not take an individuals personal factors into account, such as their race, appearance, age, religeon or previous convictions.

When searching, the police must follow what is known as the 'GOWISE' procedure. The Police officer must state the grounds for the search, the object they are searching for, the warrant number, their ID number, the station they are from and their entitlement to search form.

Not following this procedure can lead to future problems, such as the case of Osman v DPP where evidence that police gathered during the search was dismissed in court as the searching officers had failed to follow the correct procedure.

What can they do during a search?

Section 2 of PACE gives information on what clothing a Police officer can remove during a search. Whilst on the street, a Police officer can only ask the individual to remove outer clothing, including their jacket, coat and gloves.

The Police officers must use certain conduct during a search, such as minimise embarrassment, carry it out near to where the person was stopped, and only search for the article they sought. They may use reasonable force if the person being searched does not co-operate.

If a more thorough search is needed, it must be done by an officer of the same sex as the individual and in a private place.

Police powers given in other legislation

Section 60 of Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 where a Superintendant or officer of a higher rank can allow officers in uniform to stop and search people without reasonable suspicion when serious violence is anticipated, within 24 hours in a specified location.

Sporting Events Act 1985 allows Police officers to stop and search individuals to and from sporting events in order to prevent violence, such as football hooliganism.

Missuse of Drugs Act 1971 gives Police officers the right to search for controlled drugs.

Terrorism Act 2000 where an officer of Assistant Chief Constable or above may authorise stop and search in a certain location for up to 28 days, without reasonable suspicion.