Stop and Search
Stop and Search is a valuable public protection tool, helping to keep those who live and work in Sussex safe from criminal activity.
We have a responsibility to ensure we use Stop and Search powers effectively and fairly; being held accountable over what we do is fundamental to the trust and confidence people place in us.
For an overview of our Stop and Search statistics, please click here to visit the police.uk website
The primary purpose of stop and search powers are to enable officers to allay or confirm suspicions about individuals carrying unlawful items, without exercising their power of arrest. Legally you do not have to give the searching officer your personal details, even if they ask for them, but it is helpful to allow us to accurately understand if you have been treated fairly and to help further scrutinise officer behaviour.
If you are stopped and searched, you should be told:
- Why you are being stopped and/or searched
- The officer’s name and the station they are based at
- What power they have used to stop you
- Your right to obtain a record at a police station or be handed a receipt
If an officer needs you to remove anything more than your coat, outer jacket and gloves, or an item you wear for religious reasons, you will be taken somewhere out of public view. This could include a police vehicle or police station. It will be done in the presence of an officer who is the same sex as you.
In August 2014 the Home Office introduced the 'Best use of Stop and Search Scheme', a voluntary initiative which was welcomed by Sussex Police and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Scheme aims to achieve greater transparency and community involvement in the use of stop and search and support a more intelligence-led approach.
By taking part in the scheme, we are making a commitment to:
- Reduce the number of Section 60 searches (a power to search anyone within a given area based upon a significant risk of serious violence) by increasing the seniority of the officer who can authorise these searches and limiting the duration of initial authorisations to 15 hours.
- Record the outcome of searches in more detail to show the link, or lack of, between why the search took place and the outcome of the search. For example, was a person arrested as a result of the search and were they later charged?
- Introduce a lay observation policy ('Ride-along Scheme') so that members of the public can accompany police officers and see stop and searches taking place. Ride-along Scheme application.
- Put into place a complaints process, so that people can have their case reviewed if they have been stopped and searched more than three times in six months. Complaints can be made through Your Voice Counts.
- Sussex Police is required to make public any deviation from the scheme and breaches will require our membership of the scheme to be automatically reviewed by the Home Office.
- All forces, including those not in the scheme, must ensure that Stop and Search powers are applied in accordance with the law and only used if necessary.
Community Complaints Trigger
You can request a Community Complaints Trigger by completing the Your Voice Counts form. The Trigger allows people who have been stopped and searched on at least three occasions in a six month period to request a review of the fairness and legitimacy of the searches.
Submissions will be reviewed by the Policing Branch who will notify the outcome in writing. Reviews can also be requested by a third party such as MP, local councillor, community group, or a carer for a vulnerable person or for someone with disabilities that would prevent them from requesting a case review themselves.
A third party can only request a review on behalf of a subject if they have the subjects consent. Checks will be made to ensure that third party requests are genuine; the subject will be contacted to ensure that they are happy with the request being made.