Stop and search

Stop and Search

Best use of Stop and Search scheme

Thames Valley Police has voluntarily signed up to the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (BUSSS). You can read more about the scheme here (opens new window)

What is a stop and search?

Stop and Search is a lawful tool that the police use to help prevent and detect crime and ensure the safety of the public.  Being stopped and searched does not mean you have been arrested, it does not result in you getting a criminal record and it will not be disclosed as a result of any police checks such as a Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) check by prospective employers.

Why might I be stopped and searched?

The law allows you to be stopped and searched when an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you are carrying:

  • drugs, weapons or stolen property: or
  • Items which could be used to commit a crime

Sometimes officers can stop and search you within a specific area without any reasonable grounds if it is believed by a senior officer that:

  • Serious violence could take place; or
  • Offensive weapons are being carried or have been used

The officer must explain this to you and must be searching for weapons or items which could be used in connection with violence.

Who can stop and search me?

The following people are allowed to stop and search you:

  • Police officer (if not in uniform they must show you their warrant card)
  • PCSO in uniform (for alcohol and tobacco if underage)

It’s not legally required that the officer is the same sex as the person they are searching.

How should a stop and search be carried out?

The officer can ask you to take off more than an outer coat, jacket or gloves, and anything you wear for religious reasons, such as a face scarf, veil or turban, but only if they take you somewhere out of public view.

Before you are searched, the officer must take all reasonable steps to ensure that you understand:

  • That you must wait to be searched (you are detained for the purposes of the search)
  • You must be told why you are being searched
  • What law they are using
  • Their name and the station they work at
  • Why they stopped you
  • What they are looking for; and
  • your right to a copy of the search

The officer is required to ask for your ethnicity by law, and you are not required to give it.  Thames Valley Police and the Home Office use the information we collect about ethnicity through stop and searches to help tackle discriminatory practise and help promote more effective use of powers,

Thames Valley Police ride-along scheme

Thames Valley Police has a ride-along scheme that allows members of the public to observe community policing by accompanying officers on patrol.  Although it’s not guaranteed, this may provide an opportunity for you to witness a stop and search taking place.  For more information, including how to apply, please open and read the ride-along policy document from the list on this page:

Thames Valley Police ride-along scheme


You should always be treated fairly and with respect, if you feel this has not happened you are entitled to complain.

If you wish to make any complaint about the stop and search procedure, please visit our complaints page which explains the options available to you

Recent stop and search complaints and conduct data 20.12.pdf (PDF 96 Kb - opens new window)

Anonymised details of every stop and search complaint is shared with the Stop and Search Independent Advisory Group (SSIAG) which meets every quarter. For more information on the SSIAG visit their page

Stop Search Data

The following tables detail our quarterly Stop Search activity.  If you require more historic data please contact us

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report

HMIC examined the use of the use and management of stop and search within Thames Valley Police in 2012-13.  To view the HMIC report on Thames Valley Police and the national findings, visit their web site (opens new window)

Stop and Search Action Plan

Thames Valley Police has a Stop and Search Action plan which is reviewed and updated at bi monthly working group meetings.

To view the action plan please view this PDF Thames Valley Police Stop and Search Action Plan - 29 March 2016 (PDF 225 Kb - opens new window)

Further information

Useful information

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