Policing Powers

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You have the same right to respect for your privacy and to hang out with your friends as adults do, as long as you are not disrespecting other people’s rights. You have a right to be treated fairly and not differently just because you are young.

Police can stop and search you...

...if they have a reason to suspect you are carrying an offensive weapon like a knife, any item that could be used to cause criminal damage, stolen items, fireworks, explosives or firearms, or drugs. The Police can take anything they have reason to suspect to be unlawful and it doesn’t have to be returned to you.

Police Officers should explain

  • The reason for being searched and what they are looking for
  • The law they are using to search you
  • That you must wait to be searched
  • They must give you their name or their service number and rank and the Police Station that they work in
  • You have a right to be treated politely and with respect.
  • You have a right to get a form with details of the stop and search on it.

The Police officer will give you a reference number which you can quote when you go to the police station and ask for a copy. You have up to 12 months from being stopped to do this.  When a search is carried out in a public place, the only clothing you can be asked to remove is your outer clothing - a hat, your coat or jacket and gloves.  If a police officer requires you to take off for example a t-shirt, this must be done out of public view e.g. in a Police Station or in the back of the police van. But remember you are entitled to know why this search is necessary.


Police Ombudsman- 0845 601 2931 OR 02890 828600

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PONI online complaints form - http://www.psni.police.uk/index/support/support_how_to_make_a_complaint.htm

Contact Info


Children's Law Centre
2nd Floor
127-131 Ormeau Road
Belfast, BT7 1SH

Tel: 028 90245704
Fax: 028 90245679

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