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Information for PSNI Stop & Search Procedures

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General Advice when subject to a PSNI stop and search:

  • Remain calm and speak clearly
  • Refer to the advice card and see what questions you are obliged to answer and what the PSNI are entitled to do under terms of the legislation.
  • Do not stop voluntarily: let the PSNI stop you and always ask why and under what legislation you are being stopped. By stopping when a PSNI officer approaches you are consenting and have stopped voluntarily, and when a person consents there is no requirement to use the legislation. Wait until they tell you to stop or hold out their hand to indicate you to stop.
  • Likewise DO NOT CONSENT to a search – let them tell you the legislation they are searching you under – remain passive – but you are under no obligation to assist in a search in any way, therefore DO NOT ASSIST THEM in their search of you or your vehicle - if they wish to search you or your vehicle let them do it.
  • No reasonable suspicion is required for a substantial amount of the legislation, and where it is required, it is used on the basis of the definition of terrorism, as well as on behaviour and current intelligence which is extremely broad and has a very low threshold.
  • If you are in doubt about any aspect of a stop and search or feel vulnerable exercise your right to silence and contact your solicitor – as no matter what legislation you are stopped under you have the right to seek legal advice. However, this does not mean the PSNI have to stop with their search/questions while you consult with your solicitor, they may continue with the search/questions.
  • Always ask for a search record (blue slip) you are entitled to one unless circumstances are not practicable for the officer to fill it in. Ask for the details of the officer conducting the stop/search. If refused take note of number of officer (lapels) date, time and location of stop and search.

Terrorism Act 2000


Section 41 – Power of Arrest for ‘Terrorist Offences’


“A Constable may arrest without warrant a person whom he reasonably suspects to be a terrorist’ – reasonable suspicion based on behaviour or current intelligence


No specific offence needs to be suspected – and PSNI not required to give detailed reasons at the point of arrest.


Section 43 – Stop & Search for items related to ‘Terrorism’.


In order to stop and search an individual an officer must have reasonable grounds that the individual is a terrorist. Like s41 this procedure can be based on behaviour or current intelligence.


Justice & Security Act 2007


Section 21 – Stop to ascertain identity and account for movements.


This can be done for as ‘long as necessary’ – Re Mooney as long as 1hour 25 minutes was deemed necessary by the Court.


Includes whilst in a vehicle or in person. It is an offence to fail to stop or to answer the relevant questions.


Questioning includes: – in regard to identity (name, address, DOB and movements (coming from and going to)

Only British Army can ask anything in relation to a recent incident (explosion or shooting).


Section 24 – Search for items such as transmitters, ammunition & wireless apparatus.


Allows for search of person, vehicle or premises


In a person search there is no power to remove any clothing other than outer coat, jacket or headgear.


Reasonable grounds are NOT required in a public place but ARE REQUIRED in a private place.



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