With alarming frequency police officers and CSOs are unlawfully stopping innocent children in public places and searching them without reasonable suspicion of any offences being committed. They are rarely given the required information required of a stop and search to be performed in a public place and are frequently sworn at by these uniformed officials. They then are moved on and treated appallingly by officers who have no legal powers to perform either the search or the intimidation. They receive no record of the procedure - which is a legal requirement - and the police refuse to give these children the details required by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE).
This is what should happen if either the police or a Community Support Officer stops and searches you.
The police officer must normally tell you:
- what law they are stopping you under, and your rights;
- their name;
- the station they work at;
- why they had reason to believe you in particular might be in contravention of the law they are stopping you under;
- what they are looking for; and
- that you have a right to be given a receipt of the stop or search straightaway.
If the officer is not in uniform, they must show you their ID or badge.
If you are in a public place, you are not required to remove any clothing other than the outer layer - your coat or jacket and your gloves. The exception is if you have been stopped under anti-terrorism legislation, or in some circumstances where the officer believes you are using the clothing to conceal your identity. If they wish to search further and remove more than the items above you must be taken out of the public view. An officer of the same sex must be called to conduct the search. The Police are not permitted to swear at you, use profanities and intimidate you.
Controversial anti-terror laws which police have habitually used to justify stop and search without grounds for suspicion were recently ruled illegal by European judges. The power - Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 - has been used on hundreds of thousands of people. Now, since this landmark ruling in Europe, the police will only be able to stop and search somebody if they have intelligence that this particular individual is linked to terrorist activity.
It is also worth remembering that these uniformed thugs who abuse the rights of innocent children do it because no one challenges them. The police have no right to retain property found on anyone they search, unless they suspect if to be either the product of a crime, or about to be used to commit a crime. In these cases they must provide a receipt for the confiscated items, and a date on which the person can retrieve them from the police station. If the police fail to provide this they are committing theft.
The police are (at least in theory) not immune to prosecution for criminal offences conducted whilst on duty. In fact, the penalties for a police officer in uniform should be more severe. If you are stopped and searched, make a note of as much information as possible; get names of witnesses who saw the behaviour of these officers. Always consult a solicitor who will guide you through the process of IPCC complaints, and if enough evidence exists, push for prosecution.