Information on the Stop and Search powers used by Hampshire Constabulary
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The Police use Stop and Search powers to prevent crime and to identify or rule out suspects. It is the law that you must stay with the officer while they search you. A stop and search is not an arrest; you will not be left with a criminal record. If there is reasonable suspicion, police can search you for:
The use of these powers allows the police to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, and to prevent more serious crimes occurring.
In 2014, the Home Office formally launched the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme and Hampshire Constabulary have supported this new initiative since the end of November. Backed by the Home Secretary, the principal aims of the scheme are to achieve greater transparency and increase community involvement in the use of stop and search powers.
Hampshire Constabulary are committed to being open and transparent about Stop and Search and are constantly striving to ensure that the public understand what is being done to improve how the power is used.
On 24th March 2015 the report ‘HMIC Stop and Search Powers 2: Are the Police using them effectively and fairly?’ was published with 11 recommendations. One of the recommendations was that each Police Force must develop plans that set out how they will complete the action required to make good progress in relation to the recommendations in HMIC's 2013 report and publish to the public on force websites. This will include progress in relation to Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme. Click here to see Hampshire Constabulary's plan.
Who can stop & search?
You can be stopped by a police officer or a police community support officer (PCSO). The PCSO must be in uniform and can only search you for alcohol, tobacco or under the terrorism act 2000. A police officer does not have to be in uniform but if they are not wearing uniform they must show you their warrant card.
Where can I be stop & searched?
All search powers allow you to be searched in a public place and for some like the Misuse of Drugs Act or Terrorism Act you can be searched anywhere.. If you are in a public place, you only have to take off your outer clothing and gloves, unless you have been stopped in relation to terrorism or where the officer believes you are using clothes to hide your identity. If the officer asks you to take off more than this or anything you wear for religious reasons, they must take you somewhere out of public view. In this case, the police officer who searches you must be the same sex as you.
How should I react?
Apart from the inconvenience, people may feel irritated that they have been stopped when they haven't done anything wrong - that's completely understandable. Don't forget that the stop and search must be carried out according to strict rules - officers have responsibility to ensure that people's rights are protected. Everyone should expect to be treated fairly and responsible.
Everyone has a civic duty to help police officers prevent crime and catch offenders. Although it's up to you whether you provide your name and address, the stop and search will be much quicker if a person co-operates with police officers. You can help this process by being patient and remaining calm. Officers are aware that being searched is an inconvenience, and that you are probably in a hurry. They should make the search as brief as possible, but in the interest of public safety they must also be thorough.
What can I expect?
The officer searching you must be polite and respectful at all times; and all stops and searches must be carried out with courtesy and consideration and should be handled quickly and professionally.
As a minimum the officer is legally required to record;
- Date , time and place of the search
- Your self defined ethnicity (if provided)/Observed ethnicity
- What they were looking for
- The grounds for the search/legal power or authority used
- The officer's details
- They will ask for your name and address and date of birth. You don't have to give this information if you don't want to, unless you are being reported for an offence.
You should not be stopped and searched just because of your age, race, ethnic background, nationality, faith, the language you speak or because you have committed a crime in the past.
You will also be asked to define your ethnic background, as the officer is required to record this on the form. This will help community representatives make sure the police are using their powers fairly and properly. However, you don't have to disclose your ethnicity if you don't want to.
You should receive a written record of the search at the time of the event; however, because of operational demands, you may be told where to collect the record later. If you want to complain about being searched or the way it was carried out, this record will help identify the circumstances. Police may also use the record at a later date to contact you about anything that may have happened in that area around the time you were stopped.
Is this a police record?
No, it isn't. The fact that you were stopped and searched doesn't mean that you are under arrest or have done anything wrong. Although the officer is legally required to complete a form, this doesn't amount to you having a police record.
As part of the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme we have adopted a local community trigger process, providing us with an opportunity to explain to community scrutiny groups how stop and search powers are being used when complaints/feedback are received. You can give feedback by completing the online Stop and Search trigger application below which will be sent directly to the Force Lead for Stop and Search.
If you wish to make an official complaint regarding how you have been treated as a result of being stopped and searched please call 101. If you have any questions or concerns about the Constabulary's use of Stop and Search powers, please email us.
On 30th July 2013, an extension was made to the Home Office consultation on the use of Stop and Search. You find out more on the Gov.UK website.
Hampshire Constabulary has signed up to the scheme, which allows members of the public to gain an insight into how police officers consider and apply their use of stop and search powers.