Stop and Search

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S1 PACE 1984

The police have the right to stop and search people and vehicles in a public place if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting thet the person is in possession of (or the vehicle contains) stolen goods or prohibited articles (eg offensive weapons, anything that can be used to carry out a criminal offence.

Most powers set out Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

'reasonable gorunds'-can't besure what 'reaonable gorunds' is

'public place' also cause some confusion: whiat is classified as a public place?

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Public Place

Can include car parks and gardens, if the police have good reason to believe that the person doesn't live there

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Prohibited Articles

  • Offensive weapons including knives and other sharp objects
  • Articles for use in connection with burglary, theft or criminal damage eg graffitti

Burglary-enter a property as a tresspasser with the intention to commit theft, GBH or criminal damage or when you enter the propert you carry out a theft or GBH

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  • Police officer must give his name, station and reason for search
  • Osman v DPP (1999)
    • Police officers failed to give name or stattion when using powers of stop and search making it unlawful.
    • Osman had resisted search and charged with assaulting a police officer
    • On appeal his conviction was quashed because the search was unlawful and if this is the case you're entitled to use reasonable force to resist
  • Michaels v Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court (2009)
  • If the search is in public the suspect can only be requested to remove his outer coat, jacket and gloves. S2(9) PACE
  • Any other items have to be removed out of public view e.g. in the police car
  • A written report must be made asap after the search. This is to make sure there were reasonable grounds and that police go about it carefully
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A couple of facts...



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Code A

  • Police Code of Practice A under PACE
  • Example of delegated legislation
  • Guidance on the use of powers to stop and search
  • Must be fair, responsible, respectful and non-discriminatory
  • Must rely on intelligence or information-must not be based on personal factors alone e.g. the suspect's physical appearance or previous convictions
  • Reasonable suspicion is open ended and gives police fairly wide powers
  • Must not be based on age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership.
  • Examples of an objective or evidence based reason for a search
  • There is a huge disparity across the country on how police use their powers.
    • There is evidence that police are still making stereotypical assumptions and using these as reasonings
    • A black person is 7% more likely to be Stopped and Searched than a white person
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  • Exception to the rule that search shouldn't be based on appearance
  • Reliable information that members of a gang habitually carry knives, weapons or controlled drugs
  • Identify themselves by a distinctive item of clothing
  • Told what offender looks like
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Voluntary search

Can only be made where a power to search already exists and must berecorded in writing

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Other powers to stop and search

  • The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971-power to stop and search for contorlled drugs
  • The Terrorism ACt 2000--power to stop and search if reasonable suspicion that the suspect is involved in terrorism
    • can ask suspect to remove headgear and shoes -s43 and s44
      • these sections have been used excessively
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** Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 ** C

  • S60-gives the police the power to stop and search if they anticipate serious violence may be about to occur
  • Authorisation required from a senior police officer
  • Do not have to have reasonable suspicion
  • Permission can only be granted for 24 hrs
  • Met Police Force have used S60 more than any other power to stop and search.
  • The Home Secretary, Teresa May, instructed Police FOrces to cut back on the use of S60
  • S60AA
    • Police can ask suspect to remove any item of clothing they have reasonable grounds for believing is being used to hide their identity.
    • Separate power to S60
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