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Stop and search

Answers to questions we are often asked about stop and search

Stop and Search

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Policy Documents

Information and Position Statements

Stop and Search Activity

Scrutiny

Scrutiny Board: Meeting minutes and supporting documents

Stop and Search Chats

Make a complaint

Want to make a compliant about how your stop and search was handled? There’s advice on how to do this on our complaints page.

Contact

Have a question about Stop and Search in Nottinghamshire?

You can ask a question about police stop and search or view our most frequently asked stop and search questions.

 

What can I expect from the officer stopping and searching me?

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The officer must be polite and respectful at all times. 

All stops and searches must be carried out with courtesy, consideration and respect. 

We know the process may take a little time but the process should be handled quickly and professionally. 

The police officer will ask a few questions and then if necessary search you. 

The search is not voluntary. If you don't co-operate the officer can use reasonable force to conduct the search. 

Police officers must use stop and search powers fairly, responsibly and without discrimination.

What information do I have to give?

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The officer has a legal duty to take down certain information during a stop and search. 

This includes

  • date and time of the stop and search
  • location
  • why they stopped you (the grounds to justify the stop and search)
  • what they were looking for
  • names of the officer(s) conducting the search

The police officer 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 the police officer says they are reporting you for an offence. 

You will be asked to define your ethnic background. You can choose from a list of national census categories that the officer will show you. You don't have to say what it is if you don't want to, but the officer must record this on the form.

Why do the police use stop and search?

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Stop and search is one of a number of powers we use to detect and prevent crime. 

The main purpose of using stop and search is to enable an officer to check suspicions about individuals without them having to make an arrest.

Why do I have to define my ethnicity?

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The ethnicity question helps community representatives make sure we are using our powers fairly and properly. 

Anyone who is stopped and searched will be asked to define their own ethnicity.

What is a stop and search?

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A stop and search is when a police officer stops and then searches you, your vehicle, your clothes and anything you're carrying.

You won't necessarily be searched every time you're stopped.

Sometimes you might just be stopped and questioned. 

A police officer can only search you if he or she suspects you are carrying

  • drugs
  • weapons
  • stolen property
  • items that could be used to commit crime or to cause criminal damage
  • certain types of fireworks
  • evidence of game and wildlife offences
  • alcohol at or en route to a designated sporting event
  • articles connected with terrorism

How is the information used?

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Officers are required by law to record every search they conduct. We have a legal obligation to make this record available to the person who was stopped and searched for up to three months from the date of search. 

After three months the information will stay on our database for future analysis in accordance with Data Protection legislation. 

If you are arrested and taken to a police station, the details of the search and your information will be recorded as part of your custody record.

What is Section 60?

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Section 60 is a power that allows police officers to stop and search. 

Where a Section 60 is in place, it means we can search anyone in a certain area, for example, when there is evidence that serious violence has taken place or may take place. 

The officer should explain this to you and must be searching for items to be used in connection with violence.

It is set for a limited time and allows officers to stop and search people without reasonable grounds.

Does being stopped and searched mean I have a police record?

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No. The fact that you are stopped and searched doesn't mean that you're under arrest or have done anything wrong. 

It doesn't feature on your police record.

Why have I been stopped and searched?

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Being stopped and searched doesn't mean you're under arrest or have done something wrong. 

In some cases, people are stopped as part of an effort to catch criminals in certain public places. 

A police officer must have a "reasonable suspicion" for stopping and searching you and they are required to tell you what that reason is. 

You shouldn't 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.

What paperwork do I get after a stop or a stop and search?

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You will be given a business-card sized receipt containing stop and search information, your rights, the law, contact numbers and details of which officer stopped and searched you. 

You will get a reference number on the receipt. This number is unique to your stop and search. 

A printed copy of the stop and search record will not be available at the time of the stop and search but you can get one by going to your local police station later. 

You must have your stop and search 'receipt' with you containing your unique reference number and a form of photographic identification with you. 

This can be, for example, driving licence, passport or student ID card. 

You have three months from the stop and search date to ask for a copy of the search. 

Getting a copy of your stop and search record is free.

Who can stop and search me?

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Police officers and Police Community Support Officers have powers to stop and search. 

A police officer does not have to be in uniform but if they aren't wearing a uniform they must show you their warrant card. 

A Police Community Support Officer must be in uniform and can only search you for alcohol and tobacco or to prevent acts of terrorism, in which case this should be done under the supervision of a police officer.

Why do I need to take photographic identification to pick up a printed copy of my stop and search?

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The force has to comply with Data Protection legislation and must see photographic identification to ensure the information is being given out appropriately to the correct person.

What happens before the search?

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Before any search takes places, you should be told why you've been stopped and told you have been detained for a search. 

The police officer must also tell you

  • their name
  • collar number
  • the station where they work (the only exception being in cases of suspected terrorist activity where providing personal details may place the officer in danger)
  • what power they have used to stop you
  • why they intend to search you
  • what they are looking for
  • your entitlement to a copy of the search record

I am a transgender person/I am going through gender reassignment - what should I expect?

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You should be treated with courtesy, consideration and respect. 

Every reasonable effort must be made to minimise any potential embarrassment that you could experience during a stop and search. 

There are specific requirements in law concerning gender and searches. 

Officers are aware of these and you should expect them to show particular sensitivity in their dealings with you.

Where can I be searched?

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You can be searched in a public place by an officer of the same gender as you. 

In public places you will only be asked to remove your coat or jacket and your 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, such as a face scarf, veil or turban, they must take you somewhere private, out of public view. 

This doesn't mean you are being arrested. 

If a strip search is required you will be taken to a police station. 

In some cases, a police vehicle could be used for a less intimate search.

How do you make sure stop and search powers are used fairly and proportionately?

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Our officers are highly trained in the use of stop and search, the law and how they should use their powers lawfully and proportionately. 

Every stop and search is recorded through an application on the officers' BlackBerry or on a paper form. 

This information is recorded in a database that is analysed and evaluated on a regular basis. 

Results are scrutinised to ensure officers are targeting areas that are deemed to be hotspots for crime. 

A number of independent organisations hold us to account over the use of stop and search and are also given access to results analysis.

What if I am in a vehicle?

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Your vehicle can be stopped at any time and you may be asked to show your driving documents, such as your driver's licence. 

You may also be asked where you're going and why. 

If the process ends there, this is considered a ‘vehicle stop'. 

If, however, a police officer then tells you to step out of the vehicle and it's then searched, this is a ‘vehicle stop and search'.

I am unhappy with the way I was stopped and searched - what can I do?

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We're sorry you feel this way. 

We expect our officers to handle every stop and search professionally, with courtesy and consideration. 

If this hasn't happened we welcome your feedback to help improve the service we provide. 

To provide feedback please click on the button below.

What should I do if I'm stopped or/and searched?

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Be patient and co-operative with the officer. The fact that you have been stopped doesn't mean you're guilty of an offence. We are doing our job to protect the public. 

We are aware that being searched is an inconvenience and that you're probably in a hurry to get where you're going. 

The officer will do the search as quickly as possible, but thoroughly, in the interests of public safety. 

It's up to you whether you provide your name and address. You don't have to, but the best advice is that you should co-operate with the police.

Stay calm - remember: you're not under arrest, don't refuse to be stopped and/or searched, the law gives officers the authority to stop and search, officers do not need permission to go through your belongings, don't be afraid to speak to the officer about what is happening and ask questions.

I have had a positive stop and search encounter and would like to praise the officer - how do I do this?

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That's good to hear. We welcome positive feedback from members of the public. 

Please fill out this Say thank you form.

Stop and search: Know your rights

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Police officers and Police Community Support Officers have powers to stop and question you at any time - but they can only search you depending on the situation.

Stop and search is one of a number of powers we use to detect and prevent crime. The main purpose of using stop and search is to enable an officer to check suspicions about individuals without them having to make an arrest.

A stop and search is when a police officer stops and then searches you, your vehicle, your clothes and anything you're carrying. You won't necessarily be searched every time you're stopped. Sometimes you might just be stopped and questioned. 

A police officer can only search you if he or she suspects you are carrying

  • drugs
  • weapons
  • stolen property
  • items that could be used to commit crime or to cause criminal damage
  • certain types of fireworks
  • evidence of game and wildlife offences
  • alcohol at or en route to a designated sporting event
  • articles connected with terrorism

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