Stop and search is a statutory power given to police officers under PACE Code A 2015 and requires them to record this process in public encounters.

The intended purpose of stop and search is to prevent crime, but it has been disproportionately applied to black and ethnic communities across the UK by an institutionally racist public body.

If you are stopped by a police officer, this section will help inform you of what to expect and your human rights in that situation.

This part of the Thames Valley Police website outlines:

  • the types of stops you may encounter

  • what you should be told

  • where you can be searched

  • what to expect from the officer

  • information you’ll receive during a stop and search

  • the information you will be asked for

  • what you’ll be given

  • exceptions


The police can arrest you under PACE Code G 2012.

The arrest can occur for a number of reasons, but when they do arrest you your right to freedom is exchanged for a number of other rights that legally protect you while in custody.

At the Police Station

Once you have been arrested you will be taken to a police station. At the police station you have a number of rights that must include:

  • not to be held for more than 24 hours without being charged. The police can apply for longer periods if they need more time. This can be up to 96 hours if approval from a magistrates’ court is granted.

  • seeing a solicitor who will be provided free of charge.

  • your family or next of kin to be informed of your location.

  • the police code of practice to be made available to you.

Your rights in custody

The custody officer at the police station must explain your rights. You have the right to:

  • get free legal advice

  • tell someone where you are

  • have medical help if you’re feeling ill

  • see the rules the police must follow (‘Codes of Practice’)

  • see a written notice telling you about your rights, eg regular breaks for food and to use the toilet (you can ask for a notice in your language) or an interpreter to explain the notice

You’ll be searched and your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while you’re in the cell.

Young people under 18 and vulnerable adults

The police must try to contact your parent, guardian or carer if you’re under 18 or a vulnerable adult.

They must also find an ‘appropriate adult’ to come to the station to help you and be present during questioning and searching. An appropriate adult can be:

  • your parent, guardian or carer

  • a social worker

  • another family member or friend aged 18 or over

  • a volunteer aged 18 or over

The National Appropriate Adult Network provides appropriate adult services in England and Wales.

Your rights when being questioneD

The police may question you about the crime you’re suspected of - this will be recorded. You don’t have to answer the questions but there could be consequences if you don’t. The police must explain this to you by reading you the police caution:

“You do not have to say anything. But, it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”