Stop and Search

Police Scotland: Use of Stop and Search

Police Scotland uses Stop and Search as an operational policing tactic in the prevention, investigation and detection of crime, with the intention of keeping people safe and to improve community wellbeing.

Police Scotland recognise that stopping and searching members of the public is a significant intrusion into their personal liberty and privacy and are committed to ensuring that all stop and search activity is carried out in a lawful, proportionate, justifiable and accountable manner.

Whilst carrying out a stop and search, officers will treat members of the public in keeping with Police Scotland’s core values of fairness, integrity, respect. Police Scotland will ensure that an individual’s rights are upheld in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equalities Act 2010.

What types of search are there?

In Scotland, we use two different types of searches.

1. Statutory powers of search
This is when a police officer believes that you are committing a crime by carrying items illegally and uses their policing powers to stop you and then searches:

  • you and your clothes;
  • anything that you are carrying, such as a bag or wallet; and
  • possibly the vehicle you are travelling in.

For a list of Statutory Powers of Search, associated legislation and Statutory Powers to require the surrender of items click here.

2. Stop and search with your consent (consensual search)
This is when a police officer stops you and must ask for your permission (consent) to search:

  • you and your clothes;
  • anything that you are carrying, such as a bag or wallet; and
  • possibly the vehicle you are travelling in.

You can refuse to give your permission for a consensual search and we will not use this as a reason to carry out a statutory search.

For more information on Stop and Search please visit the Police Scotland website.