Stop and Search

The police have specific powers that allow them in some circumstances to stop and search you. These powers are used as an intimidation tactic and to exert control on a protest or in a community, especially minority communities. It is also used for intelligence gathering. The best way to protect yourself is to know the law and not to talk.

Stop and Search is applied disproportionately in a racist manner. Black men are up to 17 times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts.

Some forces have been known to abuse stop and search procedure in order to harass protesters, and we know that stop and search tactics are used for intelligence gathering purposes.

You do not have to give you personal details under any search power.

This guide will cover what those are and offer some advice for when you are stopped by the police.

  1. When can I be stopped?
  2. When can I be searched?
  3. What can I be searched for?
  4. Blanket search powers
  5. What is reasonable suspicion?
  6. What happens when I get searched?
  7. What to look out for when being searched
  8. What happens if they find what they are looking for?
  9. Seizing an item
  10. Getting a receipt
  11. Phones and Cameras
  12. Removing Masks
  13. Challenge Your Search


COVID-19 has lead to changes in policing & protest law which may affect the information in this guide. Please also read our guide to Coronavirus & Protest Law.

No Personal Details!

You are not required to give your personal details under any Stop and Search power.

Police forces are only required to record 7 items of information collected during a Stop and Search:

  1. Ethnicity
  2. Grounds for search
  3. Object of search
  4. Identity of police officer
  5. Date
  6. Time
  7. Place

You do not need to assist them by providing any information. We suggest you stay silent.