Why would an officer carry out a 'stop and search'?

If you are stopped by the police it does not necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong. You may fit the description of someone the officers are looking for in connection with a crime, or they may suspect you of carrying stolen goods, drugs or something you could use to commit a crime or an item that could be used as a weapon.

What should an officer tell me before a search takes place?

Before an officer searches they must tell you:

  • their name
  • which police station they work at
  • what made them suspicious in the first place
  • the aim of the search
  • what they expect to find
  • that you are entitled to a copy of the search record

If you are stopped and searched the officers will try to be sensitive, discreet and quick - they will do their best not to embarrass or delay you unnecessarily. 

We don’t have the power to make you remove any clothing while we search you, apart from your:

  • jacket
  • outer coat
  • gloves

However, we may ask you remove more clothing than this, as it can make it easier to carry out the search. It’s your choice whether you agree.

What could happen if I am stopped?

If you are stopped:

  • Where possible the search should be done out of public view in order to minimise any potential embarrassment from the search.
  • Officers may ask to see the contents of your pockets as well as other items you may be carrying such as a bag
  • The officers can also search your vehicle, even if you are not present, but they must leave a notice to say what they have done
  • if you're carrying something illegal, such as a weapon, or the police believe you've committed a crime, you may be arrested
  • if they don't find anything you will be allowed to go. A record of every search will be made.
What information will you need to provide?

You do not have to give your name, address or date of birth to the police if you're stopped and searched unless you are being reported for an offence.

You may be asked to describe your ethnic origin. You do not have to give this information, but we ask the question so we can monitor the stopping of ethnic minorities and encourage police accountability.

What is a Section 60 authorisation?

If one of our senior officers (they must be of Assistant Chief Constable rank or above) believes that there has been serious violence in an area, or that there may be serious violence, then police officers will have the power to stop and search people for weapons, without needing reasonable grounds as mentioned above. This is authorised under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which is why you may hear it referred to as a Section 60 or S60.

What will the police do while there is a Section 60 authorisation?

If a Section 60 is granted, we will:

  • Make sure it is used only where necessary and make sure we make this to clear to you
  • Ensure that the senior officer authorising the section 60 has evidence that serious violence has taken place or will take place
  • Limit the duration of initial authorisations to no more than 15 hours, which can be extended to a maximum of 24 hours
  • Where possible, tell the community that there will be a section 60 authorisation in advance of the operation 
  • Report on the operation afterwards so the public can be aware of the purpose and the success of it
Can I complain about being stopped and searched?

You should not be stopped or searched just because of your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, the way you dress or because you've committed a crime in the past.

If you believe you were stopped and searched unreasonably, or you weren't treated fairly or with respect, you can complain to:

How can I tell police about my stop and search experience?

We take feedback on stop and search very seriously and regularly review their policy in the light of public feedback.

You can comment on your experience by emailing us.

What are police doing to improve their use of stop and search?

West Midlands Police has signed up to the College of Policing definition of a ‘Fair and effective stop and search'.

In addition West Midlands Police in partnership with the West Midlands Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, have recently started a series of school based stop and search presentations, aimed at improving young people’s knowledge and understanding around the use of stop and search powers. The presentations are funded by money from the Proceeds of Crime Act and will be rolled-out initially across Birmingham, followed by the rest of the force, should the initial phase prove successful.

A video has been produced to support the presentations which includes an introduction from the Police and Crime Commissioner, together with the thoughts of three young people from the West Midlands, who are actively involved in overseeing how stop and search powers are used locally.

What is the 'Best Use of Stop and Search' scheme?

We comply with the Government's requirements for the Best Use of Stop and Search.

As one of the launch forces for the Home Office's ‘Best Use of Stop and Search' scheme in August 2014, WMP has introduced a raft of measures to improve its use of the power. Central to the changes is the stop and search mapping scheme. The initiative allows the public to see exactly where this important power is used and what the outcome of every stop and search is.

It means for the first time people in the West Midlands force area can see details like the ethnicity and the age range of those who are stopped and searched. Find out more information.

Are there any independent reviews in to the police's use of stop and search?

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recently inspected West Midlands Police in relation to our use of stop and search and other powers. We received a grading of ‘Good’ for the way in which we undertake and manage Stop and Search in the West Midlands and we are already addressing the small number of areas for improvement highlighted within the report. View the full report

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has given the force a series of recommendations that we are making progress with.

What role does the PCC play?

West Midlands Police works in partnership with the West Midlands Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure appropriate governance and scrutiny is applied to stop and search powers.

What are stop and search scrutiny panels?

Officers work closely with the community to constantly review and monitor stop and search and improve the way we carry out the checks.

Click on the videos below to listen to officers and community members talking about how these work and the benefits the panels have for the community.



Why do police officers use their phones to do stop and search?

Our stop and searches are becoming even quicker and more efficient after the force launched a mobile app, which allows officers to record details of street encounters on their smart phones.

The device’s GPS (Global Positioning System) also automatically records the location of each search.

Useful Links

  • To find out more about your rights when being stopped and searched, please read the government's website.
  • West Midlands Police works in partnership with the West Midlands Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure appropriate governance and scrutiny is applied to stop and search powers. Additional information can be viewed by visiting the PCC's website.


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