Number: A 0801 Date Published: 05 September 2023 Version 13 – September 2023
1.0 Summary of Changes
Section 3.3.7 – Addition of one paragraph at bottom of section
2.0 What this Procedure is about
This procedure will explain the process to be undertaken when utilising stop and search powers under any enactment.
Compliance with this procedure and any governing policy is mandatory.
3.0 Detail of the Procedure
3.1 Stop and Search - Definition
Stop and Search is the practice whereby members of the public are searched by officers when they are suspected of possessing controlled drugs, stolen or prohibited articles or offensive weapons. This is to allay or confirm suspicions about individuals without exercising powers of arrest.
This guidance should be read in conjunction with statutory powers contained within:
S1 Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984;
Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Codes of Practice A;
Code of Practice – Stop and Search under the Terrorism Act 2000.
S23 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Firearms Act 1968
S19 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
S36 Psychoactive Substances Act 2016
3.2 Reasonable Grounds to Suspect
Reasonable grounds for suspicion is the legal test which a police officer must satisfy before they can stop and detain individuals or vehicles to search using legal powers.
Further guidance on what constitutes reasonable grounds for suspicion can be found here.
Reasonable grounds are not required for Searches conducted under S60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. See A 0802 Procedure - Section 60-60AA – Stop and Search Scheme.
3.3 Conducting the Search
Body Worn Video must be activated throughout Stop and Search encounters in accordance with A 0901 Procedure - Body Worn Video - Operational Use, Recording and the Evidential Process
Before any search of a detained person or attended vehicle takes place, the officer must take reasonable steps, if not in uniform, to show their warrant card to the person to be searched or in charge of the vehicle to be searched and whether or not in uniform, they must inform the person before commencing the search of the following:
G rounds for search. O bject / purpose of search. W arrant card must be shown (if plain clothes or requested). I dentity of officer. S tation to which attached. E ntitlement to a copy of the search record within 3 months. L egal power used. Y ou are detained for the purposes of a search. R eassurance Respect and Reflect
Reassure the person around the reasons why we use Stop and Search Powers: to prevent and detect crime and keep people safe.
Respect should be shown throughout the encounter, with empathy expressed in recognition that being searched can be a traumatic experience for the individual.
Reflect on every encounter, to ensure that the officer is confident they exercised their powers in a proportionate, sensitive and professional manner, without bias or prejudice.
These steps are vital to reduce disproportionality and increase public confidence in our fair and legitimate use of Stop and Search.
Self-Defined Ethnicity must be asked of all persons stopped and searched. This is required in order to measure proportionate use of Stop and Search powers and so maintain and improve public trust and confidence.
A302B receipts must be offered at the conclusion of the search to enable the person to scan the QR code to give their feedback and request a copy of the search record. This is a legal requirement under Code A PACE.
3.3.1 No More Than Jacket, Outer Coat and Gloves (JOG) in Public
There is no power for an officer to require the person being searched to remove any clothing in public apart from their jacket, outer coat and gloves (JOG), The search must be carried out at or near the place where the person or vehicle was first detained.
3.3.2 More Thorough Search (MTS) Out of Public View
An MTS can be conducted if necessary on reasonable grounds. It must be conducted out of public view, which could include in a police van or at a police station.
An empty street is still a public place. An MTS is a search involving the removal of more than JOG, but not exposing intimate parts (See 3.5.3).
Unless only headgear or footwear is removed, the MTS should be conducted:
by an officer of the same sex;
not in the presence of the opposite sex unless specifically requested by the person.
3.3.3 Search Involving Exposure of Intimate Parts of the Body (EIP) – Strip Search – Adults
A strip search is the most intrusive and potentially traumatic form of search permitted under stop and search powers. It should not be a routine extension of the initial search if nothing is found.
Any officer considering conducting a strip search must obtain authorisation from an Inspector, who will consider if a Strip Search is proportionate and necessary in the circumstances. The rationale for this decision must be recorded. The authorising Inspector will discuss the most appropriate location for the strip search to take place.
Searches exposing intimate parts of the body must be conducted at a location out of public view, not in a police vehicle.
Officers must be of the same sex as the person being strip searched, and must cover their body worn camera (or direct it away from the person) whenever intimate body parts are exposed. Audio recording should remain activated.
Further guidance on how a strip search should be conducted can be found here.
3.3.4 Search Involving Exposure of Intimate Parts of the Body – Strip Search (EIP) – Children and Vulnerable Adults additional requirements
In the case of a child (person aged 17 or under) or vulnerable adult, a strip search must be authorised by an Inspector.
A strip search of a child or vulnerable adult must not take place in a school or educational premises. A nearby Police Station, medical premises, or home address may be considered and discussed with the authorising inspector. An appropriate adult must be present unless there is immediate threat to the child’s life or welfare.
Police Station Custody Suites may be used for the strip search of a juvenile if there is no suitable alternative available.
In all cases where a child has been strip searched, an Athena non-crime investigation must be created and a safeguarding referral made in accordance with the requirement on Chief Officers under the Children Act 2004. Further guidance can be found here.
The Force Control Room Inspector, Oscar 1 must be advised following any strip search of a child, for inclusion on the FCR Daily Briefing.
3.3.5 Intimate Searches
An intimate search consists of the physical examination of a person's body orifices other than the mouth. These can only be done in accordance with Code C PACE with the appropriate authorities in place, after arrest.
PACE requires a constable who has carried out a search to make a record of it in writing unless it is not practicable to do so. This record must be made at the time if practicable, but in any case before going off duty, using the Mobile First Stop and Search App.
3.3.7 Supervision and monitoring
Supervisors have a duty to scrutinise stop and search submissions to ensure all relevant information and search grounds are recorded sufficiently to justify the search having taken place.
Stop and Search records will be dip sampled and the body worn video reviewed by Command Team members and local supervisors to provide quality assurance and supportive feedback on a monthly basis.
Independent community panels will continue to allow members of the public to review Police use of Stop and Search to improve standards transparency and confidence.
Any complainant will have a right to have any footage of their stop and search Further guidance on issues around gender, culture, age and disability can be found on the Stop & Search Knowledge Hub on SharePoint.
4.0 Equality Impact Assessment
EIA – July 2023
5.0 Risk Assessment
Officers must ensure they are fully aware of the risks associated with the activity together with the options open to them to reduce their exposure to such risks.
Officers utilising these powers must conduct a dynamic assessment of the risk of injury or harm to themselves or others; this will include taking appropriate measures to reduce any identified risk. Where such an opportunity arises, officers should seek to select an appropriate area to perform the stop and search to reduce identified risks.
For instance choosing a well-lit area will mean that they are better able to see, and be seen, by other motorists or members of the public.
Officers must notify Force Control Room (FCR), providing the location of the stop and search, number of persons present and any vehicle details. Officers should have due regard to the privacy of the individual should outer garments need to be removed.
Officers must remain aware that any use of force during a stop and search procedure must be lawful, necessary and proportionate in the circumstances. Officers should refer to their defensive skills training in deciding the appropriate level of force to be used.
Uniformed officers must always wear high visibility clothing when undertaking duties relating to moving vehicles or similar situations, in order to minimise the risk of injury or harm to the officer.
The following were invited to consult during the formulation of this document:
Essex Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Health & Safety
Head of Operational Change
Strategic Force Crime & Incident Registrar
DPO/Temp Head of Info Management
Support Network Chairs and Vice Chairs
LPA District Commanders
7.0 Monitoring and Review
Monitoring, analysis, and internal scrutiny of police stop and search data takes place at Chief Officer level during monthly strategic assessment and review meetings, in line with the Stop and search strategic framework. This ensures the legality of the use of stop and search powers and the monitoring of disproportionality of the ethnicity of those searched. This scrutiny will trigger investigation into apparent disproportionality and encourage comment from DPA Commanders where justification can be provided.
It is the responsibility of supervisors to actively monitor the details of stop searches as an effective means of identifying and addressing instances of disproportionality or occasions where PACE does not appear to have been adhered to.
‘Reasonable grounds’ reports are provided on a monthly basis to Operational Policing Command and District Commanders to ensure regular scrutiny of stop and search encounters.
In line with the Community complaints trigger, complaints pertaining to the policing activity of stop and search will be reviewed every 3 months by Local Policing Support Unit who will prepare a written summary of findings and recommendations based upon these complaints. These findings will be shared with Chief Officers and District Policing Area Commanders.
Any findings from the quarterly report will be actioned accordingly as directed by the Head of Department for Local Policing Support Unit, which may include options such as the dissemination of Organisational learning.
Each LPA and OPC will have a process in place for the monitoring and review of BWV relating to their officers stop and search encounters. Reviews of these encounters will be captured using a Procedural Justice Framework feedback recording sheet for consistency and monitoring.
External scrutiny will take place on a quarterly basis when stop and search performance data is presented to the Stop and Search Review Panel, Strategic Independent Advisory Group and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner Scrutiny Panel.
This external scrutiny along with feedback from the anonymous public survey will influence organisational learning and help to identify future training needs. Quarterly stop and search performance data and feedback from these scrutiny groups will also be published on the Essex Police website to ensure transparency around the use of stop and search in Essex.
Stop and Search BWV Review Panel
On a bi-monthly basis the Stop and Search BWV Review Panel will meet to scrutinise individual stop and search records, BWV of stop and search encounters and other relevant stop and search data as identified by the group.
This group will consist of a variety of members from all over Essex and will represent various ages/genders/ethnicities etc. The group will meet and review Stop Search data including Body Worn Video Footage of the same. The independent feedback will be recorded and acted on appropriately.
The group will in particular focus on individual stop and search records, especially reasonable grounds to justify the search.
8.0 Governing Force policy.
Related Force policies or related procedures
8.1 Data Security
Essex Police have measures in place to protect the security of data in accordance with our Information Management Policy – W 1000 Policy – Information Management.
8.2 Retention & Disposal of Records
Essex Police will hold data in accordance with our Records Review, Retention & Disposal Policy – W 1012 Procedure/SOP - Records Review, Retention and Disposal.
We will only hold data for as long as necessary for the purposes for which we collected. Victims/public should be reminded that Essex Police take the protection of personal data seriously as described in the privacy notice.
9.0 Other source documents, e.g., legislation, Authorised Professional Practice (APP), Force forms, partnership agreements, (if applicable)
Further guidance on issues around gender, culture, age, and disability, can be found on the Stop and Search Knowledge Hub on Sharepoint.
Related policies and updated EIA:
A 0802 Procedure - Section 60-60AA – Stop and Search Scheme
B 1200 Policy - Child Abuse Investigations
A 0900 Policy - Body Worn Video
A 0901 Procedure - Body Worn Video - Operational Use, Recording and the Evidential Process
A 0603 Procedure – Ride Along Scheme and Lay Observation
W 1012 Procedure/SOP – Records Review, Retention and Disposal.