08.12.2021

What are your rights if you’re stopped by the police?

The Police have no legal power to detain a person for a stop and account. A stop and account usually involves the Police asking what you are doing; why you are in the area; where you have been; and where you are going. You have no obligation to co-operate and can walk away.

Reasonable grounds include the suspicion that serious violence could take place; you’re in a specific location; or you’re carrying/have used a weapon.  A stop and search cannot be based on a person’s physical appearance, previous convictions, generalisations, or stereotypes.

A search must be carried out in a public place.

You may be arrested following a stop and search and if so the Police must tell you that you are being arrested; what you are being arrested for; caution you; explain the necessity for arrest; and tell you that you are not free to leave. (Note that S.60 Criminal Justice Act and S47A Terrorism Act searches do not require suspicion.)

Can I refuse to answer police questions?

You do not have to answer any questions during either a stop and search or a stop and account. Anything you do say could be later used against you. The right to silence extends to an interview under caution as stated in the first line of the Police caution, “You do not have to say anything.”

Can I walk away from the police if they stop me?

For a stop and search, if you walk away from an officer, they can detain you. For a stop and account, you can walk away and cannot be searched or arrested just because you refused to engage with them.

Do I have to give my name and address to the police?

You do not have to give your name and address for a stop and search or a stop and account.

Can I film someone being arrested?

Yes. Footage of an arrest can sometimes be paramount to winning a case or evidencing a complaint against the Police. As recent as last week [Slater Heelis] made an application to dismiss the case against one of our clients on the basis that the Police’s entry into their home and subsequent arrest was unlawful. If our client had not filmed the arrest, there would have been no evidence of the Police’s actions as their body worn camera was turned off.

Following the revelation that Wayne Couzens used his position as a serving police officer to kidnap Sarah Everard, Hannah also made the following recommendation:

“An officer who is on duty should have a radio with them so you may wish to ask them to communicate with colleagues to confirm they are in fact on duty. You should also avoid getting into a vehicle unless it is a marked police car. If there are other members of public in the vicinity you can ask them to take a video of your arrest.”

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