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Stop and search The power of the police to stop and search individuals is fundamental to their ability to do their job — namely to prevent and detect crime. The use of this power also necessitates intrusion into the rights of individuals to conduct their lives without interruption. As such, a balance must be struck between allowing the police to carry out their role effectively while simultaneously protecting the rights of individuals.
The main police powers to stop and search are contained in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 , although other statutes also contain stop and search powers. These include:
the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 – search for controlled drugs
the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 – S 60 power to stop and search in anticipation of violence. Used when authorised by a senior police officer. PC doesn’t need to have reasonable suspicion once authoristation given
the Terrorism Act 2000 – s 43 -where reaonsbale suspicion of involvement in terrorism.
S1 – Power to Stop and Search (people and vehicles) in a public place. Public place includes pub car parks and could include a private garden if PC has good reason for believing the suspect does not live at that address.
To use the power a PC must have reasonable suspicion for suspecting that the person is in possession of stolen goods or prohibited articles
Searches requiring reasonable grounds for suspicion
2.2 Reasonable grounds for suspicion depend on the circumstances in each case.
There must be an objective basis for that suspicion based on facts, information,
and/or intelligence which are relevant to the likelihood of finding an article of a
certain kind or, in the case of searches under section 43 of the Terrorism Act
2000, to the likelihood that the person is a terrorist.
Reasonable suspicion can never be supported on the basis of personal factors
alone without reliable supporting intelligence or information or some specific
behaviour by the person concerned. For example, a person’s race, age,
appearance , or the fact that the person is known to have a previous conviction ,
cannot be used alone or in combination with each other as the reason for
searching that person.
Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on generalisations or stereotypical
images of certain groups or categories of people as more likely to be involved
in criminal activity.
A person’s religion cannot be considered as reasonable grounds for suspicion
and should never be considered as a reason to stop or stop and search an
Section 1 PACE The power to search an individual also comes under s.1 of PACE and is supplemented by Code A . Code A states that powers to stop and search must be used fairly, with respect and without discrimination.
Search A search occurs when the police stop individuals and search either them, their clothes or anything that they are carrying.
When a person is prepared to submit to a search voluntarily.
However can only take place where there is a power to search anyway.
Powers to stop and question The police may question individuals, but those individuals are entirely free to decline to answer unless arrested.
Rice v Connolly (1966) A member of the public was considered to be behaving suspiciously in an area where several burglaries had occurred. The police questioned the individual, but he refused to answer. His conviction for obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty was quashed, and it was confirmed that members of the public are not under any obligation to answer questions.
Ricketts v Cox (1982) The police asked an individual questions about an assault. He was hostile and used abusive language. Magistrates decided that he was guilty of obstruction . Thus, there appears to be a thin line between lawfully refusing to answer questions and obstructing the police, based on whether or not the refusal is accompanied by hostility.
The recording of stops Following recommendation 61 of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report, under PACE Code A, when an officer requests that a person in a public place account for his or her presence, behaviour or possession of anything, a record must be made of this and a copy given to the person questioned. The record must include the date, time, place, reason why the person was questioned, the individual’s definition of his or her ethnicity and the outcome. A record need not be made if the police are asking for general information, looking for witnesses or giving directions.
If in public can only request removal of suspects outer coat, jacket and gloves.
Osman v. DPP – (1999) Mr O assaulted PC whilst being searched. Because the officers had given no reason for the search it was unlawful and Mr O could not therefore be guilty of assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty.