One of the most common questions we get from our clients is ‘did the police have the right to search me?’ The answer to this question could be very important. If the police did not have the power to search you, this could lead to evidence obtained as a result of the search not being able to be used against you. A police search without the power to do so could also give rise to a case against the Police. This is why it is very important you know your rights and how to protect them when confronted with a police officer who wishes to stop and search you.
When can a police officer stop and search me?
The power of a police officer to stop, search and detain a person is contained in section 21 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002. This section states that a police officer may, without a warrant, stop, search and detain a person, and anything in the possession of or under the control of the person if the police officer suspects on reasonable grounds that any of the following circumstances exist:
the person as in his or her possession or control anything stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained,
the person has in his or her possession or control anything used or intended to be used in or in connection with the commission of a relevant offence,
the person has in his or her possession or control in a public place a dangerous article that is being or was used in or in connection with the commission of a relevant offence, or
the person has in his or her possession or controls a prohibited plant or a prohibited drug.