Police Stop and Search Powers | KANGS PACE Solicitors


A previous article posted to the KANGS website entitled ‘Police Search and Seizure Powers’, detailed the manner in which The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (‘PACE’) provides the rules and procedure governing police interviews, questioning and search and seizure of property.

PACE also governs procedure, alongside the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and the Public Order Act 2023, for the conduct of the ‘Stop and Search Procedure’ (‘Stop and Search’) available to Police Officers.

Stop and Search enables Police Officers to allay or confirm suspicions about individuals without exercising their power of arrest.

Amandeep Murria of KANGS comments upon the law regulating Stop and Search.

KANGS has been defending clients facing allegations of criminal activity of every nature for over twenty years and is rated as one of the best criminal defence firms in the country being ‘Top Ranked’ by The Legal 500 and Chambers UK.

Our Team is led by Hamraj Kang, ranked in the ‘Top Tier’ of criminal solicitors, the winner of The Legal 500 ‘Criminal, Fraud and Licensing Solicitor of the Year’ and one of only two solicitors in England and Wales ranked as a ‘Star Individual’ in the Chambers UK Directory for work in the field of financial crime and fraud.

Should you require any initial advice, our Team can be contacted as follows:

The Nature of Stop and Search | KANGS Stop and Search Solicitors

The BBC has reported that:

In the year to March 2023, the police carried out 547,003 stop-and-searches, up from the 530,365 recorded in the previous 12-month period.’

Stop and Search provides Police Officers powers to detain and, potentially, arrest an individual within strict guidelines and, with the continuing growth of, inter alia, knife crime in the UK, it seems likely that the increase in the volume of Stop and Search reported by the BBC will continue.

Stop and Search Legislation | KANGS Criminal Defence Solicitors


Section 1 (1) of PACE states that a police officer may Stop and Search any individual in a publicly accessible place, i.e. not a dwelling, along with any vehicles, for stolen or prohibited items and

  • may detain a person, or vehicle, for the purposes of the search,
  • in circumstances where, he must have reasonable grounds to suspect that he will find stolen or prohibited articles.

Grounds are considered reasonable when the following tests are satisfied:

  • subjective - does the officer possess reasonable grounds?
  • Objective - would a reasonable person consider the grounds reasonable?

Where items found are believed to be stolen or prohibited, the individual is likely to be arrested.

It is of note that, even when it transpires that no reasonable grounds for conducting Stop and Search existed, items seized can still be admitted into evidence in court during a Prosecution.

Can I be searched on my property?

As shown above, Section 1 does not provide for Stop and Search in a dwelling.

Additionally, when a person is in a garden or yard occupied with and used for the purposes of a dwelling, or on other land so occupied and used, an Officer cannot search him unless he has reasonable grounds for believing that he:

  • does not reside in the dwelling; and
  • is not in the place in question with the express or implied permission of a person who resides in the dwelling.

In respect of vehicles parked on a person’s property, an Officer requires reasonable grounds for believing that the:

  • person in charge of the vehicle does not reside in the dwelling; and
  • the vehicle is not in the place in question with the express or implied permission of a person who resides in the dwelling.

What is a prohibited article within Section 1?

Section 1(7) of PACE states:

‘An article is prohibited for the purposes of this Part of this Act if it is—

(a) an offensive weapon; or
(b) an article—

(i) made or adapted for use in the course of or in connection with an offence to which this sub-paragraph applies; or
(ii) intended by the person having it with him for such use by him or by some other person.’

The offences to which subsection (7)(b)(i) above applies are—

  • burglary;
  • theft;
  • offences under section 12 of the Theft Act 1968 (taking motor vehicle or other conveyance without authority); 
  • fraud (contrary to section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006); and
  • offences under section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971 (destroying or damaging property).

Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

In essence, this Act authorises Stop and Search, when authorised by an Officer with the rank of Inspector or higher, when an Officer reasonably believes:

  • incidents involving serious violence may take place in the Officer’s area and authorisation will help to prevent them, or
  • an incident involving serious violence has taken place in the Officer’s area and that a weapon used in the incident is being carried in the area – and authorisation will help to find the weapon, or
  • people are carrying weapons in the Officer’s area without good reason.

Authorization typically lasts twenty-four hours and will be generally specific, to a particular area, such as a neighbour, when relevant circumstances apply.

The Police have powers to Stop and Search anyone within the defined area whether or not the Officer has reasonable suspicion to Stop and Search that one specific individual.

Section 11 Public Order Act 2023

The Public Order Act 2023 became effective in October 2023 and is intended to combat protesting and offences associated with such activity.

Section 11 (1) provides powers to Stop and Search without suspicion where authorisation must be given by an Officer with the rank of Inspector or higher who reasonably believes that any of the following offences may be committed in any locality within the Officer’s Police area:

  • that people in the area are carrying ‘prohibited’ items, defined as an item ‘made or adapted for use in the course of or in connection with an offence’ and
  • the authorisation is necessary to prevent people committing the above offences or carrying prohibited items.

Authorisation generally lasts for twenty-four hours and must apply to a specific location.

Important Points to Note Upon Arrest | KANGS Police Station Solicitors

Should you be arrested, it is essential that regard be given to the following.

Identify the officer

You have a right to request the identification of an Officer present at the scene who is involved in conducting Stop and Search. An Officer should provide you with their collar number, at the minimum, together with details of the station at which they are based.

Police Duty to keep records.

Under s.3 of PACE, officers are required to record details. Anyone subject to a search should request a written copy of the search record to prove that the incident took place. The copy should include the circumstances and result of any search that takes place. If you are not taken to the Police Station, a copy of the search should be provided at the scene.

Legal power

You should, if subject to Stop and Search, request an Officer to provide the legislation under which he is conducting the search. You should also request that the Officer explains the grounds for the Stop and Search.

The right to remain silent.

It is essential when subjected to Stop and Search that you do not become involved in any discussions or form of questioning of any nature until you have had a consultation with and are accompanied at any Interview by your solicitor.

How Can We Assist? | KANGS National Criminal Defence Solicitors

Any form of Stop and Search, arrest, or interview is a frightening and intimidating experience.

However, the Team at KANGS has vast experience gained from advising, supporting and assisting numerous clients faced with Police arrest and Interview.

Our Team will support you at all stages from arrest through to any Prosecution which may ensue. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We welcome enquires by:

Telephone: 0333 370 4333

Email: info@kangssolicitors.co.uk

We provide initial no obligation discussion at our three offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Alternatively, discussions can be held virtually through video conferencing or telephone.

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