What Are My Rights As A Trans Person If I Am Searched?

Police officers from the Metropolitan Police Service in London should follow specific guidance which has been issued concerning how to address and search trans people, and how to treat trans people when taking them into custody. If you feel that you have not been treated in accordance with this guidance, you can contact Galop for support and advice, or read our factsheet on police complaints.

If you are stopped or questioned by a police officer they should address you as the gender in which you present. Police guidance says that if an officer is not sure how to address you then they should ask you how you like to be addressed and treat you accordance with the gender (or predominant gender) you have stated. You should not be asked whether you hold a Gender Recognition Certificate or subjected to further questions about your gender identity.

Any officer can stop and search any person as long as that search is necessary and restricted to outer clothing.  If a more thorough search is required, an officer of the same gender as your stated gender is required to conduct the search. If you are stopped and searched on the street you might be asked to sign a notebook to indicate the preferred gender you want to be treated as.  Police guidance says that if you prefer, you can request that two officers (female and male) search appropriate areas of your body.

Police guidance also says that if a person is unwilling to state which gender they prefer to be addressed as, preference then the officer should make every effort to determine the predominant lifestyle of that person and treat them in that gender.  If efforts to establish the person’s preferred gender with their cooperation fail then the police officer must act in good faith on the basis of what gender the prisoner appears to present to them. The officer must tell the person which gender they believe them to be, and that the officer will be dealing with them on that basis unless they tell the officer otherwise.

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