3. What Can I Be Searched For?

What you can be searched for depends on what search power you have been stopped under.

The police often use a piece of law known as Section 1 of PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984).

Using this power, you can be searched for the following item, provided that there is reasonable individual suspicion:

  • articles for burglary/theft
  • stolen goods
  • offensive weapons
  • bladed articles
  • items that may be used to commit criminal damage

There are other specific laws that allow an officer to search you. They include the power to search for drugs or explosives, and along with Section 1 PACE, always require reasonable suspicion.

NB. Whilst not being a search power, if you’re the driver of a vehicle that is being searched or has been involved in a road traffic incident, the police have a specific power to demand your name and address.

Why the Terrorism Act?

A terrorist is defined as someone who uses, or intends to use violence or causes serious damage to property to influence government, or intimidates the public to advance a political, religious or ideological cause.

It's broad definition has a controversial history of being used to attempt to silence protest, but following an outcry it is now rarely used to describe protesters.