The police have the power to stop and/or search an individual in a public place if they have ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’ that you are in possession of illegal drugs, stolen property or that you are carrying an offensive weapon or have committed an offence.
The police do not have the right to stop you simply because you identify as a lesbian, gay men, or a bisexual or trans person, or because you are Black or Asian, for example. You also should not be stopped simply because you are in a cruising ground. For more information see the section Cruising, Cottaging and the Law.
You don’t have to give your name, address or date of birth to the police if you’re stopped and searched unless you’re being reported for an offence. The officer will fill out a form outlining the reason for stopping you, the outcome of the stop and search and their name, and give you a copy. This information won’t be held on file unless you’re charged with an offence.
The search can take place on the street. If the officer asks you to remove more than your coat and gloves, or asks you to remove anything you wear for religious reasons, then you must be taken somewhere out of public view. You’ll be asked to turn out your pockets and show the officers the contents of your bag. All stop and searches must be carried out with courtesy, consideration and respect for the person concerned.