5. What Is Reasonable Suspicion?

Unless using a blanket search power, before a police officer searches you they need to reasonably suspect that you might be carrying items that can be used to commit an offence.

If an officer has been informed that a person matching your description, and in the local area that you are currently in, has been seen to commit an act of vandalism ie. graffiti, then the police officer can reasonably suspect that the person described may be you.

This allows them to search you for items used to commit criminal damage, in this case spray cans or tins of paint.


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.