The police often stop and search people which are suspected to have stolen or prohibited articles in possession. The power to do this comes from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which indicated “a constable may search a person or vehicle in public for stolen or prohibited articles” (Elliott and Quinn, 2011, 374). The police must follow a procedure when they are to stop and search a suspect. First of all they cannot stop and search at random; they must have reasonable grounds for the search. Before the search they must then identify themselves and the station they are based at as well as the grounds for the search. If the police officers do not do this the defendant can appeal on the basis that the search was unlawful as highlighted in the case R v Bristol where the search carried out under of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was unlawful given that it had not complied with the requirements under of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. It followed that the defendant was not guilty of intentionally obstructing a search under the 1971 Act” (All England reporter, 2007)
The power to stop and search must also be used without unlawful discrimination. To discriminate is “to single out a particular person or group for worse or better treatment than others” (Collins English Dictionary, 2011, p 156) so the police cannot stop and search anyone because of their race or religion.
The police can use reasonable force to stop and search however they cannot make the suspect remove any other clothing than outer clothing in public. After the search the officer is required to write a record of the search. It use to be that the police had to record 12 different things but from March 2011 the requirements were changed to 7 to reduce bureaucracy and time. (Home Office 2011) The 7 things to be recorded by law are: • Ethnicity • Objectives of search • Grounds for search • Identity of officer carrying out the stop and search