Achieving more together towards a safer South Wales

Stop and Search

Stop and Search Overview 

Click here to view performance statistics about stop and search carried out by South Wales Police.

Click here to view performance statistics held by Police.UK

Stop and Search Monitoring

Members of the Police & Crime Commissioner’s team conduct dip sampling of completed stop and search forms around three times a year. This means that randomly selected forms are scrutinised to ensure they have been completed correctly by officers. It also means that checks are made to monitor that the stop searches have been conducted in accordance with legislation and that the grounds for search have been legitimate.

Each dip sample exercise also ensures the scrutiny of a proportion of forms relating to black & minority ethnic people that have been searched. Recognising that nationally, black & minority ethnic people are disproportionately stopped and searched, this level of scrutiny enables the fair use of powers to be assured or the misuse of powers to be appropriately challenged and investigated.

The Commissioner’s team is also currently developing a stop search community scrutiny group, where members of the community are invited to take part in the stop search dip sample process. This provides transparency to our communities on force stop and search data and practices.

If you would like to know more about this group, contact the Police & Crime Commissioner’s team by emailing commissioner@south-wales.pnn.police.uk.

Stop and Search Patrol Along Scheme

South Wales Police operates a Patrol Along scheme which supports the Best Use of Stop and Search by providing opportunities for the community to accompany police officers on patrol for a single shift. For more details, click here.

 

Useful information if you have been stopped and searched

If you have been stopped and searched in the South Wales Police force area and you would like to give feedback on your experience, click here to fill in our online form.

If you are unhappy with a stop and search encounter you have experienced in the South Wales Police force area and you would like to make a complaint, click here.

If you have been stopped and searched within the last three months and would like a full written record of your stop and search call 101 or visit your local police station.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a stop and search?

The primary purpose of stop and search powers is to enable officers to confirm or deny suspicions about individuals without exercising their power of arrest.

There are a number of laws which give powers to police officers to stop and search a person or vehicle without having to arrest them first. The ones most commonly used are:

Code A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE Code A), relating to searches for weapons, stolen property, display grade fireworks or items which could be used to commit a crime;
Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, relating to searches for controlled drugs;
Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, relating to searches for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments which might be used, or might have been used in incidents of serious violence; and
Sections 43 and 47A1 of the Terrorism Act 2000, relating to searches for evidence or articles in connection with terrorism.
Stop and Search should only be used when police officers have a good reason to stop you, but being stopped and searched doesn’t mean you have done something wrong.

You do not have to be put under arrest to be searched but the police can use reasonable force if you have been given the chance to co-operate and have refused.

What is the definition of a stop and search?

The College of Policing define an effective stop and search as outlined below:

A stop and search is most likely to be fair and effective when:

the search is justified, lawful and stands up to public scrutiny;
the officer has genuine and objectively reasonable suspicion they will find a prohibited article or item for use in crime;
the person understands why they have been searched and feels that they have been treated with respect;
the search was necessary and was the most proportionate method the police officer could use to establish whether the person has such an item.

Why might I be stopped and searched?

A police officer has powers to stop and search you, anything you may be carrying, or any vehicle you are in, if the officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting you are in possession of any of the following:

drugs
weapons
stolen property
something which could be used to commit a crime, e.g. a crowbar
Searches under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and Section 74A of the Terrorism Act 2000 do not require the officers to have reasonable suspicion that they will find anything. However, these powers can’t be used without authorisation from an Assistant Chief Constable.

Can I be stopped because of what I look like?

The officer must have sufficient grounds for searching you, for example, you must be linked to accurate and current intelligence and information.

Unless you match a description of a suspect, officers must not base their grounds on your appearance, what you are wearing or the fact that you may have committed a crime in the past.

You cannot be stopped and searched because of your actual or perceived age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, race, religion/belief, sex or sexual orientation.

How should a stop and search be carried out and what must the officer do?

If a stop and search does occur as a result of police involvement, you need to understand how this should be carried out and what your rights are. –

A stop and search must be carried out according to strict rules and the police have responsibility to make sure your rights are protected.

– Police officers must use stop and search powers fairly, responsibly and without discrimination
– The officer must treat you with respect at all times
– The police officer will ask a few questions and then if necessary search you
– The stop should be handled quickly and professionally
– Extensive searches must only be carried out when the circumstances suggest it is necessary
– The search must take place near where you are stopped, except in instances where moving you would protect your privacy, i.e. to remove items of clothing.
– The officer does not have the power to stop you in order to find grounds for a search. The grounds must be present prior to the search.
– You must be told the reason why you are being stopped and what the reasonable grounds are for suspecting you are carrying the items being searched for
– You must be told the power the officer is using to stop and search you
– The officer must give you their details, including their name, force number and police station
– If an officer is not in uniform, they must show you their identification
– The officer must make a written or electronic record of the search
– The officer must offer you a copy of the stop search form or a receipt in order to obtain one

What isn’t a stop and search?

– Confiscation of cigarettes and/or alcohol if you are underage
– If any Officer asks you for directions or general information
– Witness to a crime and are questioned to establish the background of the incident
– You have been in an area where a crime recently occurred and are questioned about what you might have seen
– Screening arches – You can’t be forced to go through a screening arch but refusal may result in further police action, or even a full search.
– Stop and Account: Sometimes officers may just need to stop and ask you about something. This is called a ‘stop and account’, and isn’t the same as a stop and search. A police officer has powers to stop you at any time and ask you
•What you are doing
•Where have you been
•Where you are going
•What you are carryingThe police officer or police community support officer must explain why you are being stopped and held to account for your actions or presence in an area but you don’t have to answer any questions they ask you. Unlike a stop and search, stop and account does not need to be recorded. However, a stop and account could lead to a stop and search.
Who can stop and search me?

A police officer can stop and search. The officer must show you their identification if they are not wearing uniform. A police community support officer (PCSO) can stop and ask you questions (stop and account), but they cannot search you.
What will I be asked to remove?

During a stop and search, an officer can ask you to remove outer garments such as a coat/jacket, gloves or scarf, unless you have been stopped in relation to terrorism or where the officer believes you are using clothes to hide your identity.

The officer can also ask you to take off more than an outer coat, jacket or gloves, and anything you wear for religious reasons, such as a face scarf, veil or turban, but only if they take you somewhere out of public view (e.g. to a police van or police station). This does not mean you are being arrested.

Searches involving the removal of anything worn for religious reasons or more than an outer coat, jacket or gloves, should be carried out by an officer of the same gender as you and out of sight of anyone of the opposite gender.

Where can searches be carried out?

Stop and searches mostly take place in public places, however, there are some powers that allow police to search people anywhere e.g. to search for firearms and drugs.

If you are in a public place, you only have to remove outer garments, such as a coat/jacket, gloves or scarf – unless you have been stopped in relation to terrorism or where the officer believes you are using clothes to hide your identity.

If the officer asks you to take off more than this, or anything you wear for religious reasons, they must take you somewhere out of public view. This does not mean you are being arrested. In this case, the police officer that searches you should be the same gender as you.

What do I do if I am stopped and searched?

Officers are entitled to be treated with respect during the stop and search. Try to be calm and patient. Being stopped does not mean that you are under arrest or that you have done something wrong. It is understandable that you may be irritated if you feel you have been stopped when you have not done anything wrong but it helps to be co-operative. The police are aware that being searched is an inconvenience and they should make the search as brief and easy as possible.

Speak with the officer if you feel your rights are being infringed but you cannot refuse to be stopped and searched. Stop and search is not voluntary – the law gives police the authority to stop and search when the officer has reasonable suspicion to do so. Equally, officers do not need your permission to go through your belongings – if you refuse, you can be searched by force.

During a stop and search the police officer will ask for your details, such as your name, date of birth, ethnicity and address. You do not have to give this information if you don’t want to, unless the police officer says they are reporting you for an offence. However, by providing this information you will be helping the police to monitor their stop and search activity so they can ensure individuals and people from particular backgrounds are not being disproportionately stopped and searched.

Why do the police ask about my ethnic background during stop and search?

Anyone who is stopped, or stopped and searched, will be asked to define their ethnicity. You do not have to give any details about yourself if you do not want to, but the officer is required to record officer-defined ethnicity and self-defined ethnicity (what you define yourself as). By providing this information you will be helping the police to monitor their stop and search activity so they can ensure police are using their powers fairly and properly. It also ensures that individuals and people from particular backgrounds are not being disproportionately stopped and searched.

South Wales Police complete dIP sampling on stop search data and information to monitor stop search activity.

Can I video-record the stop and search?

You can record the stop and search, however make sure that this does not obstruct the stop and search from being carried out.
What is a stop search receipt for?

You should be given a receipt for the stop and search at the time it happens. This receipt will include details on when you were stopped (the time and date) and the details of the officer you were stopped by. If you want a copy of the stop and search record the officer makes, or if you want to complain about being stopped or searched or the way it was carried out, the information on this receipt will help you. It will have the information you need about either of these processes.

If you have been stopped and searched within the last three months and would like a full written record of the stop and search, visit your local police station.

What can I do if I’m unhappy about the way I was treated?

The officer should treat you fairly and with respect during a stop and search. If you are unhappy with how you were treated, you can complain or provide us with feedback. You can also do this if you feel you were treated differently because of your ethnic background, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or a disability. It will help if you keep the receipt the police gave you. You can get advice about how to make a complaint from:

•A police station
•Your Police and Crime Commissioner’s office
•The Independent Police Complaints Commission
•The Equality and Human Rights Commission
•A solicitor

Alternatively, visit our ‘making a complaint’ page for further information. If you do not want to make a complaint but would like to give feedback about your stop search experience, please visit our stop search survey here online survery

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