Stop and Search

The Stop and Search laws are designed to keep everybody safe, including you. They are not intended to harass or intimidate you, and can help the police detect crime and make our communities safer.

Lancashire Constabulary has voluntarily signed up to the Best Use of Stop & Search scheme. We are committed to listening to feedback from communities, and ensuring that when we use this power it is justified, people are provided with good information and we treat everyone with dignity and respect.

The police have the right to detain a person and their vehicle for the purposes of a search if they have reasonable grounds to suspect they will find;

  • Drugs
  • ‘Offensive weapons’, such as a knife
  • Firearms
  • Stolen property, or
  • Tools which could be used to commit a crime.

So what are reasonable grounds?

There must be some objective basis to an officer’s ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’. For example an unbiased suspicion which another reasonable person would reach.

This may be based on, but not limited to;

  • Time of day
  • Location – crime ‘hot-spot’
  • Behaviour of the suspect – described in detail
  • Information received – habitual carrying of weapons or drugs.

Grounds are not reasonable if they are solely;

  • Based on a hunch
  • Based on supposition
  • Based on stereotyping
  • Based on previous convictions
  • Based purely on vague local intelligence, e.g. “local target out at night” or “seen acting furtively”

Can I refuse to be searched?

Stop and Search is not voluntary. If you resist, the police can use reasonable force to conduct the search. Officers may want to search:

  • Any bags you are carrying
  • Your pockets
  • Anything found in your bags or pockets
  • Anywhere you could conceivably conceal a weapon.

These powers are granted to the police by the following laws;

  • Section 1 of the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  • Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
  • Section 47 of the Firearms Act 1968.
  • Section 60 of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994.

Stop and Search is governed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Code A

These powers also allow the police to search your vehicle when it is unattended. If so, a notice should be left in or on it by the searching officers stating the search and their police station. You can apply for a copy of the search record within twelve months.

Countywide Community Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel

In April 2014 the Home Secretary recommended that all police forces should introduce the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme in order to achieve greater transparency, community involvement in the use of stop and search powers, and to support a more intelligence-led approach, leading to better outcomes, such as an increase in the stop and search to positive outcome ratio.

The purpose of the Countywide Community Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel is to provide independent scrutiny of the use of Stop and Search across Lancashire, to provide feedback on Stop and Search practices, to provide a voice for community concerns, and to influence police actions. It is hoped that the Scrutiny Panel will improve public confidence and trust in the way in which Stop and Search is conducted and in the correct and proportionate exercise of Stop and Search powers.

The Countywide panel consists of 10 members who come from the various districts of Lancashire, who, as far as possible, represent the demographics of the County. This panel has been selected by the community and completely independent of the Police. The Operational Local Policing Command lead for Stop and Search within Lancashire Constabulary will be available to the panel meetings in order to enable questions to be asked directly by members and will be accountable for any issues and concerns which may arise. The chair was appointed by the group in order to demonstrate transparency and accountability. The Chair will be appointed for a period of one year initially; the appointment will be reviewed on an annual basis.

The Scrutiny Panel will meet quarterly for two hours at appropriate locations within the County to undertake dip sampling of Stop and Search forms conducted across the County to ensure they are PACE Code A compliant. The Stop and Search Community Scrutiny Panel will review a random sample of Stop and Search forms, identifying any concerns, issues and areas of good practice and learning. This is a standing agenda item on the force Best Use of Stop and Search strategic meeting.

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