How can I make a complaint about how I have been treated during a stop and search?

If you think that you have been treated unfairly and feel you’ve only been stopped and searched because of your religion, your race, your appearance or for no particular reason you can make a complaint to the Police Ombudsman Office. You can:

• Phone the Police Ombudsman on 0845 601 2931 or 028 9082 8600
• Email
• Complete the PONI online complaints form here.

Can the Police stop me while I am driving? Is this an official stop and search?

A police officer can stop a vehicle you are driving and ask you to show your driving licence and proof of insurance or may require you to take a breathalyser test.  However, it only becomes an official stop and search if your vehicle is searched.

When is it not a ‘stop and search’?

You have not been officially ‘stopped’ if:

  • A police officer comes up to you and talks to you generally
  • If you are a witness to a crime and are being asked about it.

Are the Police allowed to stop me more than once in a day?

There is nothing in law to prevent you being stopped more than once in any day, as long as the legal requirements are fulfilled on each occasion.

Can I refuse to stop for the Police?

If you refuse to stop, officers can use reasonable force to stop you so they can conduct a search. Depending on your behaviour your refusal could lead to you being arrested for obstructing a Police Officer.