The laws on stop and search have been overhauled by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to prevent stop and search being carried out purely on the basis of racial profiling, or without reasonable suspicion that an individual is carrying an illegal item, or intends to commit an offence.
A police officer has the power to stop and search only if they have reasonable grounds to believe someone is carrying:
An individual can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if a senior police officer has given approval, for example if it is suspected:
However, despite more emphasis on intelligence-led stop and search, there is still concern that stop and search is being misused or over-used, with the result that individuals from some communities are more likely to undergo stop and search than others.
Undergoing stop and search can be harrowing, whether an individual has had previous dealings with the police or not – the experience can be extremely damaging psychologically, if stop and search is misused.
Duncan Lewis Action Against Public Authorities solicitors can advise on misuse of stop and search – and how to make a complaint to the police force in question.
It is advisable to make a complaint before a claim for stop and search is made – and if the police decision is not satisfactory, an appeal can be made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (formerly known as the IPCC).
We are well placed to advise on stop and search and our Action Against Public Authorities department always pursues misuse of stop and search claims robustly.
We may be able to secure legal aid, or to offer a no win no fee arrangement for advising on stop and search complaints and claims – with competitively priced rates for privately funding a claim or After the Event (ATE) insurance, if either legal aid is unavailable or where a no win no fee basis is not possible.
For expert legal advice on actions against the police and stop and search, call Duncan Lewis Action Against Public Authorities solicitors in confidence on 0333 772 0409.