Advice on Stop and Search

Know Your Rights

The police have powers to stop and question you at any time - they can also search you, depending on the situation. But do you know your rights when it comes to stop and search?

  • Where is an officer allowed to search you?
  • What should the officer tell you?
  • What are you entitled to after you've been searched?
  • How can you complain if you feel you were treated unfairly and/or without respect or discriminated against?

My Rights and Responsibilities

Everyone has a civic duty to help police officers prevent crime and catch offenders. The fact that the police may have stopped someone does not mean they are guilty of an offence.

What are my rights?

Here's a basic overview of rights that protect you:

  • The officers searching you must use the stop and search powers fairly, responsibly and with respect for people without discriminating,
  • If English is not your first language, and you do not understand why you have been stopped, reasonable steps must be taken to provide you with information in your own language,
  • The officer must make sure that the search time is kept to a minimum,
  • The search must take place near where you are stopped, except in instances where moving you would protect your privacy,
  • The officer does not have the power to stop you in order to find grounds for a search.

A more comprehensive guide to all your rights when you are stopped and searched is contained on the Home Office website.

Apart from the inconvenience, people may feel irritated that they've been stopped when they haven't done anything wrong - that's completely understandable. However, the stop or stop and search will be much quicker if a person co-operates with police officers.

Don't forget that the stop or stop and search must be carried out according to strict rules - the police have responsibility to ensure that people's rights are protected.

Everyone should expect to be treated fairly and responsibly. In almost all cases, an individual should be given a receipt of the stop and search at the time it happens (unless operational commitments prevent this).

The police use these powers to help make the local community safer by disrupting crime - public co-operation is an essential part of that.

How to Complain

We expect officers to be polite and respectful at all times and all stop and searches must be carried out with courtesy, consideration and respect. Stop and search powers must only be used fairly, responsibly and without discrimination.

If you were unhappy with how you were treated, you can complain. You can also make a complaint if you feel you were treated differently because of your race, age, sexuality, gender, disability, religion or faith. We value feedback - both positive and negative - as this helps us to identify the things we do well and any areas that we may need to improve.

There are several ways to make a complaint to Gwent Police, please see our complaints page for more details.  A complaint can also be registered with us by visiting a local police station or by using our Online Complaints Form.

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

  • Citizen's Advice Bureau,
  • Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC),
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC),
  • Your own appointed solicitor.

Body Worn Video

Gwent Police officers now wear body worn video and are encouraged to have this on during stop and search incidents.