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 stopped & 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:

Click button below for detailed UK legislation 


Skip to comment form

    • John on June 21, 2019 at 1:49 pm
    • Reply

    Hello UK Preppers Guide,

    I’ve just spent the best part of two hour reading your website. Thank you so much for all the great information.

    Can you please date the articles on the website, this would help with the context of the articles as you discuss laws.

    Kind regards.

    • Aidan on December 15, 2018 at 1:47 pm
    • Reply

    So, if I was carrying a legal knife (in a pocket or sock or something), so less than 3 inch blade, and not locking, and I was stopped by the police in the street, what should I do? Inform them that I have it?

    And just to double check, if I am carrying a knife as described above, in public, and not going to a football match or anything, is that perfectly legal? (Reason is for self defense)

      • AJ on March 12, 2019 at 12:25 am
      • Reply

      If it’s for ‘self defence’ then it’s deemed an offensive weapon and as such is illegal. However, you don’t have to tell them what it’s for!

    • Christopher Riphagen on March 30, 2018 at 7:31 pm
    • Reply

    Hi guys and girls. Just moved to the UK from South Africa and looking for like mind people who enjoy outdoors and self reliance.

    • Ezzy on February 1, 2018 at 11:17 pm
    • Reply

    Also, what is a “warrant card”? His badge/ID?
    Please, elaborate! Thanks, man!

    1. A police warrant card is a form of police i/d.
      It will show things like the division: i.e. Metropolitan Police, the warrant number, name of officer, rank and a photo.

    • Ezzy on February 1, 2018 at 11:17 pm
    • Reply

    I am asking for the legal basis here?

    ” * why they are legally allowed to search you”

    1. UK stop and search laws means a police officer can legally stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying: illegal drugs, a weapon, involved in a crime or similar activity..

        • Panda on May 7, 2018 at 6:35 am
        • Reply

        So who gets to decide what these “reasonable grounds” are? Are they laid out in some legislation?

        1. Hi Panda,
          The decision as to who actually decides the “reasonable grounds” appears to be just about any police officer.
          I have added a button at the bottom of the article which will show the actual legislation that says just that..!!
          I believe that it was a very controversial bit of legislation when put through parliament, but as with all our personal rights, we lost and it got passed….
          I would be interested to know if you have any other information on this subject?
          All the best,

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