Stop and Search


Best Use of Stop and Search
Durham Constabulary is a member of the Home Office national Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme launched on 26 August 2014.  The principal aims of the scheme are to achieve greater transparency, community involvement in the use of stop and search powers, and to support a more intelligence-led approach.
Durham Constabulary are pleased to be part of the scheme. By adopting the scheme, forces will use stop and search strategically, which we hope will improve public confidence and trust.
Forces participating in the Scheme needed to have four key requirements in place:

1) Data Recording
Forces will record the broader range of Stop and Search outcomes e.g. arrests, cautions, penalty notices for disorder and all other disposal types. Forces will also show the link, or lack of one, between the object of the search and its outcome.

2) Reducing section 60 ‘no-suspicion’ Stop and Searches by
- Raising the level of authority to senior officer (above the rank of Chief Superintendent);
- Making sure that Section 60 Stop and Search is only used where necessary and making this clear to the public
- In anticipation of serious violence, the authorising officer must reasonably believe that an incident involving serious violence will take place rather than may take place
- Limiting the duration of initial authorities to no more than 15 hours (reduced from 24)
- Communicating to local communities where there is a Section 60 authority in advance (where practicable) and afterwards, so the public are informed of the purpose and success of the operation.

3) Lay Observation Policy
Durham Constabulary is open and transparent and fully understands the impact being stopped on the street can have on members of the public.
To address any individual or community concerns members of the public who may wish to observe stop and search being used by officers should contact the Head of Response Policing who will facilitate any request.

4) Stop and Search complaints 'community trigger'
Durham Constabulary is committed to making Stop and Search transparent and accountable to its communities in order to build trust regarding the use of Stop and Search powers. The community trigger allows any member of the public or a community to complain, raise concerns, provide feedback or seek reassurance on the way Stop and Search is used in the communities of County Durham and Darlington.
 The community trigger does not replace the complaints procedure, or your opportunity to contact the Head of Professional Standards. All Stop and Search complaints are reviewed by the Head of Professional Standards and shared with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Stop and Search complaints are very low in Durham Constabulary and we will activate the community trigger for each one we receive. Every complaint under the trigger will be subject of a specific investigation, research and action.
The Constabulary has a Strategic Independent Advisory Group (IAG) with representatives from across the force area including BME community representation. Each community trigger will be explained to the IAG (subject to the removal of personal data) who will provide scrutiny and feedback over the issue identified, lessons learnt and action taken.
Should any member of the public or community group feel that they are adversely affected by Stop and Search they should title their email Stop & Search Community Trigger by clicking here and providing their name, address, a brief outline of their concerns, a contact phone number/email address and the matter will be looked into.
Stop and search - Frequently Asked Questions
Why do the police use stop and search?
The use of stop and search powers allow the police to tackle crime and keep our streets safe.
Stop and search is targeted and intelligence led, taking place predominantly in areas where crime is taking place and on people who are known or suspected to be involved in crime.
A police officer must have a good reason for stopping and/or searching you and they are required to tell you what that reason is.
You should not be stopped just because of your age, race, ethnic background, nationality, faith, the language you speak or because you have committed a crime in the past.
The police can stop or stop and search you:
§  If they think you're carrying a weapon, drugs, stolen property, or articles to commit criminal damage 
§  If there has been serious violence or disorder in the vicinity and a Section 60 authority is in place 
§  As part of anti-terrorism efforts
What is a stop?
There are three different types of stops that you may encounter:
1. Stop and account - when a police officer or police community support officer stops you in a public place and asks you to account for yourself and may ask you the following questions:
§  What you are doing
§  Where have you been
§  Where you are going
§  What you are carrying
2. Stop and search - when a police officer stops and then searches you, your clothes and anything you are carrying.
3. Vehicle stop - a police officer can stop any vehicle and ask the driver for driving documents. This is not the purpose of stop and search, but you may be given documentation relevant to road traffic matters. It becomes a stop if:
§  you or any passengers with you are asked to account for themselves; or
§  a search is carried out of the vehicle, you or any passengers with you.
You will not necessarily be searched every time you are stopped. Sometimes you may just be stopped and questioned.
There are plenty of occasions when you might talk to police, and most of these do not qualify as either a ‘stop and account’ or ‘stop and search’.
You have not been subject to stop and account if, for example:
§  You stop an officer to ask for directions or information
§  You have witnessed a crime and are questioned about it to establish the background to the incident
§  You have been in an area where a crime recently occurred and are questioned about what you might have seen
In cases such as those, you have not been stopped for the purposes described on this website, a record of the encounter will not be made and you will not be given a receipt.
What is a stop and search?
Only a police officer can stop and go onto search you, your clothes and anything you are carrying
You may be stopped as the officer may have grounds to suspect that you are carrying:
Drugs, weapons, stolen property or fireworks;
Items that could be used:
§  to commit crime.
§  to cause criminal damage.
The grounds the police officer must have should be based on facts, information or intelligence or could be because of the way you are behaving. There are times, however, when police officers can search anyone within a certain area, for example:-
Where there is evidence that serious violence has or may take place. (Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994)
The police officer should explain this to you and must be searching for items that could be used in connection with violence.
Where can I be searched?
Stop and search predominantly takes place in public places, however, there are some powers e.g. to search for firearms and drugs, which allow police to search persons anywhere. 
If you are in a public place, you only have to take off your coat or jacket and your gloves, unless you have been stopped in relation to terrorism or where the officer believes you are using clothes to hide your identity
If the officer asks you to take off more than this or anything you wear for religious reasons, such as a face scarf, veil or turban, they must take you somewhere out of public view. This does not mean you are being arrested. In this case, the police officer that searches you must be the same sex as you.
What if I am in a vehicle?
Your vehicle can be stopped at any time and you may be asked to show your driving documents, such as your drivers licence.
A police officer can legally stop any vehicle at any time and ask to see the driver's licence. They can also ask where you're going and why. If the process ends there, this is considered a ‘vehicle stop’.
If, however, a police officer then tells you to step out of the vehicle and it is then searched, this is a ‘vehicle stop and search’
What should I do if I am stopped or/and searched?
Everyone has a civic duty to help police officers prevent crime and catch offenders. The fact that the police may have stopped someone does not mean they are guilty of an offence.
Apart from the inconvenience, people may feel irritated that they’ve been stopped when they haven’t done anything wrong – that’s completely understandable. However, the stop or stop and search will be much quicker if a person co-operates with police officers.
It's up to you whether you provide your name and address. You don't have to, but the best advice is that you should co-operate with the police.
Don’t forget that the stop or stop and search must be carried out according to strict rules – the police have responsibility to ensure that people’s rights are protected. Everyone should expect to be treated fairly and responsibility. The police use these powers to help make the local community safer by disrupting crime – public co-operation is an essential part of that.
How should I react?
Be patient:
The police are aware that being searched is an inconvenience, and that you’re probably in a hurry to get where you're going. They should make the search as brief as possible. But in the interest of public safety they must also be thorough.
Be calm:
Remember, you are not under arrest.
Don't refuse to be stopped or/and searched.
The process is not voluntary - the law gives police the authority to stop and search.
Officers do not need your permission to go through your belongings - if you refuse, you can be searched by force.
Try to stay calm and don’t be afraid to speak to the officer if you think your rights are being infringed.
What can I expect from the officer stopping or searching me?
The officer must be polite and respectful at all times.
All stops and stops and searches must be carried out with courtesy, consideration and respect.
We are aware that the process may take a little time but the process should be handled quickly and professionally.
The police officer will ask a few questions and then if necessary search you.
The search is not voluntary. If you do not cooperate the officer can use reasonable force to conduct the search.
Police officers must use stop and search powers fairly, responsibly and without discrimination.
During a stop and search what information do the police have to give me?
The police who stop and search you must provide you with certain information including:
§  Their name and the station where they work (unless the search is in relation to suspected terrorist activity or giving his or her name may place the officer in danger. They must then give a warrant card or identification number)
§  The law under which you have been stopped
§  Your rights
§  Why you have been stopped and searched
§  Why they chose you
§  What they are looking for
During a stop and search what information will the police ask for?
The police officer will ask for your name and address and date of birth. You do not have to give this information if you don’t want to, unless the police officer says they are reporting you for an offence.
Everyone who is stopped or stopped and searched will be asked to define his or her ethnic background. You can choose from a list of national census categories that the officer will show you.
You do not have to say what it is if you don’t want to, but the officer is required to record this on the form. The ethnicity question help community representatives make sure the police are using their powers fairly and properly.
What paperwork do I get after a stop and a stop and search?
You will receive a receipt at the time of the event. This receipt will contain details of the officer’s name and collar number, the date of the search, and any reference number available at the time. The receipt is provided to enable you to fulfil your legal right to receive a copy of the record within a 3 month period.
You can request a copy of the record by either-
a)      Providing the officer at the time of the stop and search with your email address and a copy will be forwarded to you as soon as practicable.
b)     Emailing us at with a valid form of identification, such as a drivers licence, passport, utility bill or bank statement.     
c)      Attending one of the following stations during Front Office opening times with a valid form of identification, such as a drivers licence, passport, utility bill or bank statement.    
Barnard Castle Police Station,
Wilson Street,
Barnard Castle,
County Durham DL12 8JU
Opening times - 10am until 3pm - Monday to Friday

Bishop Auckland Police Station,
Woodhouse Lane,
Bishop Auckland,
County Durham DL14 6LB
Opening times - 8am to 6pm - Monday to Friday
10am to 4pm - Saturday and Sunday

Chester le Street Police Station,
Newcastle Road,
Chester le Street,
Durham DH3 3TY
Opening times - 10am until 5pm Monday to Friday

Consett Police Station,
Parliament Street,
County Durham DH8 5DL
Opening times - 10.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday
Crook Police Station,
South Road,
County Durham DL 15 8NE
Opening times - 10am to 3pm - Monday to Friday

Darlington Police Station,
St Cuthberts Way,
County Durham DL 1 5LB
Opening times - 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday

Durham City Police Station,
New Elvet,
Durham DH1 3AQ
Opening times - 8am to 6pm - Monday to Friday. 10am to 4pm - Saturday and Sunday.
Newton Aycliffe Fire and Police Community Station,
Central Avenue,
Newton Aycliffe,
Durham DL5 5QH
Opening times - 10am until 5pm Monday to Friday

Peterlee Police Station,
St Aidans Way,
County Durham SR8 1QR
Opening times - 8am to 6pm - Monday to Friday
10am to 4pm - Saturday and Sunday
Seaham Police Station,
The Avenue,
Seaham ,
County Durham SR7 8AD
 Opening times - 9am until 2pm Monday to Friday
Spennymoor Police Station,
Wesleyan Road,
Spennymoor ,
County Durham DL 16 6FB
Opening times - 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Stanley Police Station,
Thomeyholme Terrace,
County Durham DH9 0BL
Opening times - 10.30am to 4.30pm - Monday -Friday
What information does the record contain?
The search record must contain the following information:
§  The officer details
§  The date, time and place of the stop and search
§  The reason for the stop and search
§  The outcome of the stop and search
§  Your self-defined ethnicity
§  The vehicle registration number (if relevant)
§  What the officers were looking for and anything they found
§  Your name or a description if you refuse to give your name – you do not have to provide the officer with your name and address.
Is this a criminal record?
No. The fact that you have been stopped and/or searched does not amount to you having a criminal record.