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UK Stop And Search Law

Do You Know The
 UK Stop And Search Law

The UK stop and search law is quite well defined and both you and the police have specific rights to help, and protect both parties during a search.

policeman stopping and search

The main thing to remember if you are ever in a situation is where a police officer tells you that you need to be searched is:

Being searched doesn’t mean you’re being arrested.

This article is aimed at us preppers, and as such, assumes your not someone who aimlessly carries drugs, firearms or a big knife around with you – instead I am generally talking prepping, bushcraft or survival tools. 

As a prepper we generally have a different take on survival tools and survival weapon ownership, as we need certain weapons and tools to ensure complete preparation and readiness if there were to be an emergency survival scenario.   

Police powers to stop and search: your rights

The police have powers to stop and question you at any time – they can search you depending on the situation.

A police community support officer (PCSO) must be in uniform when they stop and question you. A police officer doesn’t always have to be in uniform but if they’re not wearing uniform they must show you their warrant card.

  • Stop & Question - Police Powers

A police officer has powers to stop you at any time and ask you:

  • what you’re doing
  • why you’re in an area and/or where you’re going

However, you don’t have to answer any questions the police officer asks you.

  • Stop & Search - Police Powers
stop and search

A police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:

  • illegal drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen property
  • something which could be used to commit a crime, eg a crowbar

You can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if it is suspected that:

  • serious violence could take place
  • you’re carrying a weapon or have used one
  • you’re in a specific location or area
  • Before You Are Searched

Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you:

  • their name and police station
  • what they expect to find, eg drugs
  • the reason they want to search you, eg it looks like you’re hiding something
  • why they are legally allowed to search you
  • that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy
  • Removing Clothing - Police Powers

A police officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves.

The police might ask you to take off other clothes and anything you’re wearing for religious reasons – eg a veil or turban. If they do, they must take you somewhere out of public view.

If the officer wants to remove more than a jacket and gloves they must be the same sex as you.


For more information on UK Weapons Laws and Legal UK Weapons see here:

I hope this short article on the UK stop and search law has helped you:

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