Know your rights under UK Stop and Search powers

The following is a reproduction of an article from Liberty which you can find here: http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/issues/6-free-speech/s44-terrorism-act/index.shtml

You should also read the guidance published on the Home office website which contains information about your rights under stop and search which can be found here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/police/powers/stop-and-search/

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the police to stop and search anyone in a specific area.

Before Section 44, the police could only stop and search individuals if they had ‘reasonable grounds’ and certain criteria were met. That is no longer necessary, and we have seen Section 44 powers used against anti-war, anti-weapons and anti-capitalist protestors.

The power to stop and search under anti-terrorism powers should only be used when there is evidence of a specific terrorist threat. It should not be simply an addition to the day to day powers of officers policing protests.

YOUR RIGHTS UNDER SECTION 44:

• The police can only give you a pat down, remove outer clothes (eg jacket, hat), search your bags and have you empty your pockets
• You do not have to give your name and address
• You do not have to explain why you are there
• You are not allowed to flee the search, but you are not required to be actively compliant. You are allowed to ‘go limp’ as passive resistance during the search if you wish not to comply
• There is no permission to collect DNA data during the search
• You do not have to comply with any attempt to photograph or record you
• Women cannot be touched by male police during these searches
• Make notes about the officers searching you – name, number and police force
• Note the time and the events preceding the search
• Note the specific wording used by the police to explain their authority to search you
• Ask the police for the reason that they are searching you. Specifically, are they searching for terrorists or are they simply trying to deter, delay or inconvenience you?

Afterwards:
• Hold on to the Search Record or any other documentation the police give you (or note if you don’t receive one)
• Make brief notes about the search while you still remember all the details
• Do not write anything down on the day that you don’t want disclosed to the police. Police may search you again and be able to read anything that you have written down
• Please complete and submit Liberty’s search monitoring form
• Consider making a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission
• Write to Lord Carlile, the independent monitor of the implementation of anti-terrorism legislation (Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, The House of Lords London SW1A 0AA)
• Consider pressing charges if the officers used unnecessary force during the search

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