Stopping you to ask questions…
Generally, the police may stop and question you at any time but you are not obliged to stop and answer their questions. A police officer does not have to be in uniform, but, if they are not, they must show you their warrant card. A community support officer (PCSO), must be in uniform when they stop and question you.
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Due to his consistently accurate legal advice, he ensures the majority of investigations he is instructed to defend are discontinued. However, if his clients are charged, Michael will ensure the highest quality of representation where no stone is left unturned to seek an acquittal, or if guilty, that the minimum possible sentence is imposed by the court. As part of his meticulous preparation to present his client’s case, he will hand-pick specialist Counsel to provide the most formidable defence available.
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Questions Before Search…
An officer may ask questions before searching you, for example, if you have been seen to act suspiciously. Your answers may confirm or dispel that suspicion but your answers cannot retrospectively justify them stopping you where there were no reasonable grounds to begin with4.
Before You’re Searched…
Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you5:
- That you are being detained for the purposes of a search;
- Their name and police station;
- Why they are legally allowed to search you;
- What they expect to find (e.g. drugs or weapons);
- The reason they want to search you (e.g. if it looks like you’re hiding something);
- 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 gloves6 and this must be at or near where you were detained.
If the officer wants you to remove anything more than outer clothing (including anything you wear for religious reasons) this must be done by an officer of the same sex as you and it must be done out of public view, such as in a police van or a nearby police station7.
However, a police officer may (without taking you somewhere private) place their hands inside the pockets of your outer clothing or feel around inside of collars, sock, shoes or your hair8 for the purposes of looking for an object.
The police may use reasonable force to search you but only if it has been established that you are unwilling to co-operate or resist under code A paragraph 3.2.
Remember: Being searched doesn’t mean you’re being arrested.
Disguises: A police officer may also ask you to demand that you remove any face coverings with an officer reasonably believes to be worn wholly or mainly for concealing your identity9. This is only where a special order has been given by a senior police officer in a certain locality.
Free and independent legal advice
You will never be penalised for asking for legal advice. It is your legal right and it is free of charge.
Remember: the law is complex and it never hurts to get expert advice, even if you are sure you have done nothing wrong.
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- Section 1 of PACE (the Police and Criminal Evidence 1984) as amended
- or anything which is in or on a vehicle
- Up to 24 hours in the first instance but extendable for a further 24 hours (s.60(3))
- PACE Code A paragraph 2.9
- PACE Code A paragraph 3.8
- PACE Code A paragraph 3.5
- Code A paragraph 3.6
- Unless this would require removal of an item worn for religious purposes
- Section 60AA of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (see PACE Code A paragraphs 2.15-2.18)
- See full provisions in section 24 of PACE 1984 and Code G paragraphs 2.9
- Section 28 PACE 1984
- Code G paragraph 3.3 note 3
- PACE 1984 section 117 and Criminal Justice Act 1967 section 3(1)
- PACE Code C paragraph 3.1
- The Codes of Practice under PACE referred to throughout this article
- he Codes of Practice under PACE referred to throughout this article