Critically discuss the stop and search powers of the Police

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  1. The purpose of this paper is to critically discuss the powers of the police in England and Wales to stop and search citizens under s1 of the police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. There are some issues still remaining that needs to be changed or altered in order to make this section of the law more compliable with the ECHR. I will also discuss these.
  1. The duty of the police is to tell the person they are searching, what they have been stopped for, what the police is searching the person for, what station they work for and their name. However, in some cases e.g. Mustapha Osman v Southwark, it was acceptable that the police didn’t have a chance to introduce himself to the person as he was assaulted by the defendant. The police said that he would have introduced himself if he had the chance.[1]
  1. The police should also inform people about what they are trying to find e.g. a stolen material. There are some reasons why the person may be searched; one example is that the person may seem suspicious i.e. you seem like you are trying to hide something from the police. The person may also be asked to remove clothing e.g. asking you take your jacket, hat or coat. If taking other clothing off is necessary, the person is taken somewhere out of public e.g. police van with a police officer that is the same sex as them. This is also applied in religious situations where the person may be asked to take a turban out. [2]
  1. The powers given to police are legislated by the public; we elect to make those laws. However, they are granted some amount of their own decision and perceptions in enforcing those laws. Although these laws are limited and regulated by policy, they can still affect their powers being used disproportionately. A relevant example of this issue is the powers used against specific types of social groups.[3] “In England and Wales, black people are searched seven times as often as white”.[4]
  1. The stop and search powers of the police are only suitable where the police has ‘reasonable grounds’ to be suspicious about a person carrying a weapon, a stolen property, something that could be used to cause a crime or illegal drugs. However, you can also expected to be stopped and searched if a senior police officer has given permission for the police to do so. This can take place where serious violence is about to happen, if you’re in a specific location or area or if you’re carrying a weapon or have used it. [5]
  1. The act states that powers to stop and search should only be used where a police has ‘reasonable grounds’ for suspecting. Although, reasonable suspecting is not defined by the Act,

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