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Stop & Search

Who, What and Why?

Advocacy & support services for young people.
Spark2Life have been commissioned by the London borough of Waltham Forest to deliver an Advocacy and Support Service for young people around stop and search and interaction with the police. The overarching aim of this project is to improve the relationship, trust and confidence between young people and the police through community involvement, tackling disparities and enabling a rights-based approach.
What is a stop and search?
What is a stop and search?
‘Stop and search’ or ‘Stop and frisk’ is a term used to describe the powers of the police to search a person, place or object without first making an arrest.
What will be asked of you during the encounter with the police officer(s)
What will be asked of you during the encounter with the police officer(s)

An officer will ask you the following questions:

What you are doing?

Where have you been?

Your name? Your address?

Your date of birth?

You do not have to give this information unless you are being detained for an offence.

To what extent can I be searched?
To what extent can I be searched?

If you are in a public place, you could be asked to remove your coat, jacket and gloves. The police do have the right to search inside your pockets and inside your bag. An officer may be required to search your headscarf, veil or turban. If so, they must be conducting the search somewhere out of public view. You should not be asked to drop your trousers, remove your shirt or lift your clothes during a stop and search.

Strip Searches

These should only be conducted when the police have reasonable grounds to believe you may be guilty of an offence such as concealing contraband or a weapon.

What may happen when a strip search is conducted:

  • Requesting you to remove all articles of clothing or accessories from their physical body;
  • Probing (or searching) a person’s body parts, cavities, and creases (like under a flap of skin).
Making a Complaint
Making a Complaint

If as a result of a negative stop and search, you would like to make a complaint, we at Spark2Life would like to hear your voice.

We want you to feel empowered that your complaint will be handled with care and compassion.

While looking at body cam footage of your encounter we will be able to see where things could have been handled more correctly (under 18s, will need parental consent for footage to be seen by Spark2Life).

Once the footage has been reviewed by Spark2Life and the local police, we shall ascertain what needs to done to prevent this happening to any other young people.

What grounds do the police have to stop and search you?
What grounds do the police have to stop and search you?

In England and Wales, Stop and Search is the power given to police to search an individual or vehicle if:

  • They have “reasonable grounds” to suspect the person is carrying: illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime.
  • They are looking for someone who matches your description
  • They are exercising anti-terrorism efforts

The cannot stop you based on your:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Appearance or what your wearing
  • Religion
Body worn videos (BWV)
Body worn videos (BWV)

Body worn videos are used to provide visual evidence to be used at court. Officers are required to turn on body cameras when conducting any stop and search. Always ask for this to be turned on if you are being stop and searched.

This footage is especially important if you would like to make a complaint about a negative encounter.

Can I film the police?

Yes, you can film. The police do not have the right to stop you filming incidents or police personnel.

Facts and Fictions
Facts and Fictions
‘Can I be stop and a searched for the smell of weed?’

Fact, the smell of weed or marijuana can in fact insight the grounds of suspicion.

‘The police officer has to be the same sex to be searched me!’

Fiction, an officer of any sex can search you, providing that its conducted in a open public area and it is only the outer clothes are being checked.

‘You can’t arresting me for swearing!’

Fiction, you can be arrested under the Public Order Act 1986. Using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour can result in an arrest. Please STAY CALM to avoid these situations.

How the Advocacy Service began...

The Advocacy Service began with StreetBase and the YIAG of Waltham Forest (Youth Independent Advisory Group). They conducted a survey and gathered real life testimonies from young people regarding Stop and Search practices and the problems these young people were facing.

The research found that many of the young people surveyed were not aware of their rights surrounding Stop and Search practices and were not aware of the complaints process if they had a negative encounter.

This was how the Advocacy Service began.

Spark2Life were then commissioned by Waltham Forest Council to deliver an Advocacy Service which explains the laws and rights surrounding Stop and Search encounters while also providing a unique complaints system for young people who have had negative experiences during a Stop and Search encounter.

Further information

We would like to offer students the opportunity to learn about the advocacy service and their rights and responsibility.

For more info contact: [email protected] | [email protected]

Feel free to leave your contact information and we will get back to you as soon as possible.