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Powers and law

We have a number of powers and legislation which can help us in the fair and effective use of Stop and Search.

Powers - Pace

When PACE may be used

Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 allows police the power to stop and search persons, vehicles etc.

An officer may use any power given by Section 1 PACE —

(a) in any place to which at the time when he proposes to exercise the power the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission;
(b) in any other place to which people have ready access at the time when he proposes to exercise the power but which is not a dwelling. 

Read further information about Section1 PACE (opens in new window)

Powers - Misuse of Drugs Act 

Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 states:

If a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that any person is in possession of a controlled drug the constable may -

(a)search that person, and detain them for the purpose of searching them;
(b)search any vehicle or vessel in which the constable suspects that the drug may be found, and for that purpose require the person in control of the vehicle or vessel to stop it;
(c)seize and detain, for the purposes of proceedings under this Act, anything found in the course of the search which appears to the constable to be evidence of an offence under this Act.

Powers - Section 60

When Section 60 (S60) can be used

If a senior officer (Assistant Chief Constable or above) believes people may be carrying weapons or causing serious violence in a particular area, temporary powers may be authorised under section 60 (S60) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Where a S60 has been granted, police officers have the power to stop and search people for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments, without the having reasonable grounds. They may require the removal of certain items of clothing.

Under the Home Office’s Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme, we will:

  • ensure that section 60 stop and search is only used where it is deemed necessary – and making this clear to the public
  • in anticipation of serious violence, the authorising officer must reasonably believe that an incident involving serious violence will take place Limit the duration of initial authorisations to no more than 15 hours (down from 24)
  • where practical, give advance notice to local communities that there will be a section 60 authorisation.
  • report on it afterwards so the public is aware of the purpose and success of the operation.

 Powers - Searches

Powers when searching
PowerObject of searchExtent of searchWhere exercisable 
Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 S1

Stolen goods;articles made, adapted or intended for use in the course of or in connection with, certain offences under the Theft Act 1968, Fraud Act and Criminal Damage Act 1971;

Offensive weapons, bladed or sharply-pointed articles (except folding pocket knives with a blade, cutting edge not exceeding 3 inches;

Fireworks: Category 4 (display grade) fireworks if possible prohibited, adult fireworks in possession of a person under 18 in a public place.

Persons and vehicles Where there is public access
Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 S23

 Controlled drugs

Persons and vehicles  Anywhere
Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1984

 Offensive weapons or dangerous instruments to prevent incidents of serious violence or to deal with the carrying of such items which have been used in incidents of serious violence

Persons and vehicles Anywhere within a locality authorised under subsection (1)

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