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Stop and Search

If we have reasonable suspicions that you might be carrying something illegal or something which may be used in a crime, stop and search powers enable us to search you without having to arrest you.

The primary purpose of stop and search powers is to enable officers to confirm or allay suspicion about individuals without exercising their power of arrest.

Searches are carried out where there are reasonable grounds to do so. These grounds must be clearly explained to the individual being searched.

What are my rights?

To learn more about your rights and police powers, visit the Police powers to stop and search: your rights page on GOV.UK.

What happens during a stop and search?
  • Where possible the search will 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 are carrying something illegal, such as a weapon, or the police suspect you have committed a crime, you may be arrested.
  • If they do not find anything, a record of the search will be made and you will be offered a receipt (PDF).
  • All stop searches must be recorded on body worn video, whether the officer is in uniform or plain clothes.
What information will I need to provide?

The officer may ask for your name and address, date of birth or some identification.

You do not have to give this information unless the officer suspects you have committed an offence. For example, if something illegal is found during the search.

If you do not provide your details at this time, you may be arrested.

The officer may also ask you to define your ethnicity. Again, you do not have to tell us this. We ask people about their ethnicity so that the fair treatment of different ethnic groups can be monitored, internally and independently, to improve the service we provide.

What if I want to complain?

If you believe you were stopped and searched unreasonably, or you were not treated fairly or with respect, you can complain:

What is the Community Trigger process?

The Community Trigger ensures we work together to try to resolve complaints or concerns.

If you have a concern about the way the police are using stop and search within your community, you can report a concern about the way the police are using stop and search within your area.

It does not replace the complaints procedure, or your opportunity to complain to your local police station or Independent Police Commission.

The Independent Scrutiny Panel and the Force Stop and Search lead will decide whether single complaints will activate the Community Trigger process.

If the local policing area receives more than one complaint over a 3 month period, the Community Trigger process will be activated.

All stop and search related complaints and their outcomes, will be published on this page anonymously.

For a chance to increase your understanding of the process and to discuss with officers, any person who makes a stop and search related complaint will be considered to take part in the Ride Along Scheme.

How many Stop and Searches are performed in Avon and Somerset?

To view statistics for stop and search in Avon and Somerset, visit our stop and search statistics page or police.uk.

Are stop and searches subject to independent scrutiny?

The use of police powers, including stop and search, is subject to regular scrutiny by the Independent Scrutiny of Police Powers Panel (ISoPP).

To find out more about the ISoPP, visit the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) website.

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