Stop and search is a lawful tool that the police use to help prevent and detect crime and ensure the safety of the public.
Best use of Stop and Search Scheme
Thames Valley Police has voluntarily signed up to the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (BUSSS).
What is a stop and search?
Stop and search is a lawful tool that the police use to help prevent and detect crime and ensure the safety of the public. This does not mean you have been arrested, it does not result in you getting a criminal record and it will not be disclosed as a result of any police checks.
Why might I be stopped and searched?
The law allows you to be stopped and searched when an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you are carrying drugs, weapons, stolen property or items which could be used to commit a crime.
Sometimes officers can stop and search you within a specific area without any reasonable grounds if it is believed by a senior officer that serious violence could take place or offensive weapons are being carried or have been used.
The officer must explain this to you and must be searching for weapons or items which could be used in connection with violence.
Who can stop and search me?
Police officers (if not in uniform they must show you their warrant card) and PCSOs in uniform (for alcohol and tobacco if underage) are allowed to stop and search you.It is not legally required that the officer is the same sex as the person they are searching.
How should a stop and search be carried out?
The officer can ask you to take off more than an outer coat, jacket or gloves, and anything you wear for religious reasons but only if they take you somewhere out of public view.
If an officer, takes you away from public view they are able to request that you remove more than just your outer clothing including anything worn for religious reasons.
Before the search officer’s must ensure that you understand:
- You are detained for the purposes of the search
- Why you are being searched
- Which law they are using
- Their name and the station they work at
- Why you have been stopped
- What they are searching for
- Your right to a copy of the search.
The officer is required to ask for your ethnicity by law, however you do not have to give it.
Thames Valley Police ride-along scheme
Thames Valley Police has a ride-along scheme that allows members of the public to observe community policing by accompanying officers on patrol. Although it’s not guaranteed, this may provide an opportunity for you to witness a stop and search taking place. For more information and how to apply, please read the ride-along policy.
You should always be treated fairly and with respect, if you feel this has not happened you are entitled to complain. If you wish to make any complaint about the stop and search procedure, please visit our complaints page which explains the options available to you.
Anonymised details of every stop and search complaint is shared with the Stop and Search Independent Advisory Group (SSIAG) which meets every quarter.
Stop search data
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report
HMIC examined the use of the use and management of stop and search within Thames Valley Police in 2012-13. Visit the HMIC website to view their report on Thames Valley Police and the national findings.
Stop and Search Action Plan
Thames Valley Police has a Stop and Search Action plan which is reviewed and updated at bi monthly working group meetings.