Wiltshire Police are committed to fully embracing the Home Office "Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme." Stop and Search is a proactive and effective tool in reducing and detecting crime. However, Wiltshire Police recognise the impact that being searched can have on an individual. The powers that Police officers have to stop and search an individual must be used in an intelligence led manner that is responsible, proportionate and non-discriminatory.
What can you expect if you are stopped and searched?
A ‘Stop and Search’ is when you are stopped by an officer and searched. A police officer can search you, your vehicle, your clothes or anything you are carrying. However, before they can do this, the officer must have a good reason for conducting the search and they must tell you why they are searching you.
A Police Officer can only search you if he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect that they’re likely to find;
• Stolen property
• Items which could be used to commit burglary, theft or deception
• Certain types of firework
• Evidence of game and wildlife offences
• Alcohol at or on route to a designated sporting event
• Items made, adapted or intended to damage or destroy property
• Articles connected with terrorism.
Before the search takes place, the police officer will tell you that you have been detained for the purpose of a search. Although this does not mean you have been arrested, you must remain with the police officer until the search has been completed. The length of time you are detained must be reasonable and kept to a minimum.
Before commencing the search the police officer must also tell you:
• Why they intend to search you
• What they are looking for
• Their name and the station where they work. (There are occasions when an officer may not need to give you their name, but they must then give you their identification number. If in plain clothes they must also show their warrant card).
• The legal power or authority they are using
• Your entitlement to a copy of the search record.
The police officer must record every search that they carry out and you are entitled to a copy of this record.The officer will either give you a copy of the search record there and then, or give you a receipt with details of how you can obtain a copy of the record within one year of the date of the search.
Under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act if an officer of at least chief officer rank believes that weapons may be being carried or that there is going to be serious violence in a particular area, search powers may be authorised if they are believed to be necessary so that anyone in that area (e.g. near a football ground) may be searched for weapons without the police officer needing to have reasonable grounds for each person searched. These powers are temporary and can only last for a maximum of 24 hours.