Stop and search

Date published: 26 April 2023 14:24

What does SYP use stop and search for?

South Yorkshire Police has a clear vision for Stop and Search: To achieve the highest level of trust and confidence in its use to tackle crime and keep our streets safe. 

This key policing power assists us to protect our communities by identifying and eliminating violent and key crimes including antisocial behaviour.

Our officers may use stop and search when they reasonably suspect that a person is in possession of an illegal item or something that may help them to commit crime. We have certain powers and legislation available to us, and we are required to act in accordance with the Codes of Practice and treat people with respect and dignity.

When used properly, stop and search can prevent and deal with issues such as drug dealing, burglary, and possession of offensive weapons.

South Yorkshire Police is part of the Home Office’s ‘Best Use of Stop and Search’ scheme. This voluntary scheme aims to contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, deliver better and more intelligence-led stop and search, and improve arrest and other positive outcomes. It is also designed to provide the public with further information on the outcomes of searches.

These pages will provide up to date information around the use of stop and search in South Yorkshire, the legislation that underpins it and the opportunity to provide feedback if you have been stopped and searched by one of our officers. We also welcome anyone who would like to join our stop and search scrutiny panel.

Our dedicated Stop and Search lead at SYP is Chief Inspector Gareth Thomas. He oversees the stop and search within the force and runs our bi-monthly scrutiny panels. Chief Insp Thomas can be contacted on: Gareth.Thomas@southyorks.pnn.police.uk

South Yorkshire Police's Stop and Search Policy can be found here. To know your rights when a police officer is executing a stop and search, read here.

You can find out more about Stop and Search here.

Plan on a Page

The force puts into place a 'Plan on a Page' for its various policy areas so that officers and the general public can follow their aims and priorities. The details of the Stop and Search Plan on a page can be seen below, and also can be accessed here.

We believe a stop and search is most likely to be fair and effective when:
• the search is justified, lawful and stands up to public scrutiny.
• the officer has genuine and objectively reasonable suspicion they will find a prohibited article or item for
use in crime.
• the person understands why they have been searched, that it was ethical & that they feel they have been
treated with respect.
• the search was necessary and was the most proportionate method the police officer could use to
establish whether the person has such an item.

Aims and Objectives

South Yorkshire Police support the proportionate and ethical use of stop and search powers and recognise its effectiveness in the detection and prevention of crime. The use of Stop and Search powers directly impacts upon our relationship with the public and it has led to national debate, media scrutiny and friction between the police and public.

Apparent disproportionate use with regard to minority ethnic groups is a key area of concern, so our use of this power must be fair and open to scrutiny, balancing the rights of individuals with the safety of the public, whilst at the same time increasing public confidence.

We can help achieve this by:

• Increasing the use of Body worn video, as this is a key part of ensuring transparency in the use of stop and search.
• Improving training and processes by the use of scrutiny panels, allowing perspectives of others to be considered.
• Ensuring supervisors have an oversight of all stop and searches.

Commonly Used Legal Powers

Section 1 PACE 1984 - A constable may search any person, vehicle, or anything which is in or on a vehicle, if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that they may find any, Stolen property or Prohibited articles. Prohibited articles includes, offensive weapons, bladed or sharply pointed articles, corrosive substances, prohibited fireworks or articles in connection with any theft, or criminal damage. (stopping of a vehicle must be in uniform under 163 Road traffic act).

Sec 23 Misuse of drugs act 1971 - A constable who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is in possession of a controlled drug may detain and search that person, or any vehicle or vessel.

Sec 36 Psychoactive substances act 2016 - creates a power to stop and detain a person for the purpose of search where a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person has committed, or is likely to commit, a PSA offence. As simple possession is not a PSA offence, there is no power to search for simple possession.

SEC 47 Firearms Act 1968 - A constable who has reasonable cause to suspect a person of having a firearm with him in a public place, or committing or about to commit elsewhere than a public place, an offence relevant for the purposes of this section (sec 18, carrying a firearm with criminal intent), or (sec 20, trespassing with a firearm), the constable may detain that person and/or vehicle, for the purpose of search.

Voluntary person searches where no power exists are unlawful.

Legal Requirements: Sec 2 Pace

You must ensure the following is explained to the person being searched:
• Identity, Your name unless terror related/specific risk to the officer.
• Station attached, (must be a geographical location, i.e FSG, TSG not sufficient).
• Object, Be clear what you are looking for.
• Grounds for the suspicion, what you’ve seen, info/ intel received.
• Entitlement to copy of search record within 3 months.
• Legal power used.
• Warrant card if not in full uniform (plain clothes with body armour is not full uniform).
• You are detained for the purpose of search.

Extent of Search / Intrusiveness

In public view. Jacket outer coat and gloves (JOG).

Out of public view e.g police van. More thorough search. Must be completed by officer of the same sex unless no more than headwear/footwear removed.

Out of public view at a nearby police station/nearby location (not in a police vehicle). Exposure of intimate body parts. Must be completed by an officer of same sex and consultation with supervisor prior to searching.

Vulnerable Persons and Children

Officers should make every effort to ensure that the person’s vulnerability does not prevent them from understanding why they are being searched. Where a search exposing intimate parts of the body is to be conducted on a vulnerable person or child, an appropriate adult must be present unless there is a risk of serious harm to the person or someone else. VC forms should be submitted.

Body Worn Video

Body worn video MUST be used for stop and search encounters and titled “Stop&Search” on DEMS (The camera should be covered or directed away from the person, whenever intimate body parts are exposed. Audio should remain recording).

Supervisors must check BWV reference is recorded on the search record which must have been recorded on the PRONTO App.

Location Data

The PRONTO App within the phone has GPS data. The pin, which is found in the location field, must be dropped at the start of each stop and search encounter to allow for accurate location data recording of where the search has taken place.

Casual Observers / Taking Photos or Filming

There is no legal power to stop filming of incidents or police personnel in public places, however every reasonable effort must be made to minimise the embarrassment the person being stopped and searched may experience.