What is Stop and Search?

  • An officer can stop and search you if they have a genuine suspicion that items that could be used to commit crime or are evidence of an offence (e.g. stolen property or weapons) will be found on you. Their suspicion must seem reasonable to an independent observer
  • Being stopped and searched does not mean that you are under arrest or have necessarily done anything wrong. It does not mean that you have a criminal record
  • The officer must be able to explain what information or behaviour has caused them to be suspicious and led to the stop and search.


Update for National PEEL Police Legitimacy HMICFRS Recommendation:

Surrey Police had, until mid-2018, a quarterly stop and search oversight meeting (‘Stopwatch’) which reviewed a comprehensive set of data, as shown in the reports. This included reviewing disproportionality between different ethnic groups, the differences in find rates between people from different ethnicities, and the different find rates for different types of searches. This meeting consisted of internal representatives, the Police and Crime Commissioner or a member of their office, and Independent Advisory Group members. We are now able to separate drugs supply versus drugs possession searches and these will be reported on in future as the new information is gathered. Disparities, research and activity are shown in the oversight meeting’s documents and minutes. The Force mandated the national unconscious bias e-learning, and rolled out an innovative hour-long stop and search training package.

There is now an external scrutiny panel and internal scrutiny arrangements for stop and search and the use of force.

The stop and search and use of force independent scrutiny panel terms of reference, and the governance arrangements are shown here, along with minutes and reports from relevant meetings and events.

In May 2019, Surrey Police held an online question and answer session about Stop and Search. You can read a transcript here.

  • The search must be justified, lawful and stands up to public scrutiny
  • The officer has genuine and objectively reasonable suspicion they will find a prohibited item for use in a crime
  • You understand why you have been searched and feel you have been treated with respect
  • The search was necessary and the best method the officer could use to establish whether you have such an item.

You should be informed of:

  • why you are being stopped and/or searched
  • the officer’s name and the station they are based
  • which power they have used to stop you, and
  • you should be treated in a professional manner, with dignity and respect.

If an officer needs to remove more than your jacket, outer coat or gloves, footwear or headgear, you will be taken somewhere out of public view. This could include a police vehicle or police station and, if the search involves the removal of more than footwear or headgear it will be done in the presence of an officer who is the same sex as you.

You don’t have to give the officer your personal details even if they ask for them. You will be offered a record of the search.

An officer needs reasonable grounds to stop and search you. They should genuinely suspect you have an item in your possession. The grounds for the search and the objective of the search must be explained to you fully.

You should not be stopped because of your age, race, ethnicity, nationality, faith, gender, sexual orientation, disability, the language you speak or because you have committed offences before.

As part of the Home Office Best Use of Stop and Search & Scheme, the Force's Professional Standards Department (PSD) flag every complaint which relates to stop and search. At the point of flagging, the complaint is cross referenced with other stop and search complaints over the previous 12 months to check for any trends. This is reported through Stopwatch (a quarterly meeting to review our Stop and Search activity). Where trends are identified, an action plan will be implemented.

The Force runs a lay observers' scheme which allows members of the public to accompany police officers on patrol to witness and feedback on the use of stop and search.

We welcome expressions of interest from Surrey residents wishing to take part in the scheme. To do so please visit the contact us page. In order for us to conduct basic security checks we will require your full name, date of birth and address.

Contact us

To report any feedback, concerns or complaints about Surrey Police's use of stop and search powers, use our contact us form.

Key Documents