Stop and Search
Stop and Search – REWIND
Remember, under the Stop and Search legislation, everyone has rights. This includes the person being stopped and searched and the officer doing the stop and search. Sussex Police treat everyone fairly regardless of race, religion, belief, gender, sexuality or ethnicity. The intention of a stop and search is to prevent unnecessary arrests and to keep you and others safe.
Every person who is stopped and searched is entitled to a receipt. This is offered at the time of the search or can be requested at a later date from a police station within a year of the stop and search taking place.
It’s normal for our officers to record a stop and search using their body worn video. The person being stopped and searched can also record the interaction so long as they are not obstructive.
When stopped, the officer will give their name and the police station they work from. The officer will explain:
- The reason for the stop, known as the grounds
- What they think they may find, the objective of the search
- Why a person is being detained for a short while and which police power they are using to do so
If the person who is stopped has a problem understanding what is being explained by an officer, they have the right to ask for an interpreter or for an appropriate adult.
Our advice is to try to remain calm. Officers understand that being stopped and searched can be worrying for some people. Our officers will do what they can to protect a person’s dignity and privacy during a stop and search.
Normally the officer doing the search will be the same gender as the person being stopped though there may be occasions when this isn’t possible.
If there is a need for a strip search, this will always be done by an officer of the same gender. A strip search will never happen in a public place.
During a stop and search, the officer may ask the person who is stopped to remove their jacket or other outer garments such as hats, gloves and scarves. They will search through any items being carried, for example a rucksack, wallet or handbag. Officers will be respectful and treat people with dignity.
Remember REWIND. Everyone has rights.
We have a responsibility to ensure we use Stop and Search powers effectively and fairly. Being held accountable over what we do is fundamental to the trust and confidence people place in us.
For an overview of our Stop and Search statistics, please visit police.uk.
We are currently merging our Stop and Search data recording systems for our mobile devices and desktop terminals which means we are unable to share our data publically. We have informed the Home Office and as a consequence publishing our data at the current time would mean we are in breach of a technical aspect of data publishing.
When the update is completed, we will be able to publish the data retrospectively along with current data going forward. We are continuing to monitor our Stop and Searches which are internally audited and subject to independent scrutiny.’
In August 2014 the Home Office introduced the 'Best use of Stop and Search Scheme', a voluntary initiative which was welcomed by Sussex Police and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Scheme aims to achieve greater transparency and community involvement in the use of stop and search and support a more intelligence-led approach.
By taking part in the scheme, we are making a commitment to:
- Reduce the number of Section 60 searches (a power to search anyone within a given area based upon a significant risk of serious violence) by increasing the seniority of the officer who can authorise these searches and limiting the duration of initial authorisations to 15 hours
- Record the outcome of searches in more detail to show the link, or lack of, between why the search took place and the outcome of the search. For example, was a person arrested as a result of the search and were they later charged?
- Due to an IT upgrade to allow stop search to be recorded on mobile devices we are temporarily unable to publish our data in full. We are seeking a technical resolution as soon as possible. This means we are reporting a breach of a key component of the Scheme until rectified
- Introduce a lay observation policy ('Ride-along Scheme') so that members of the public can accompany police officers and see stop and searches taking place.
Put into place a complaints process, so that people can have their case reviewed by an independent scrutiny panel. Complaints can be made through a number of channels
Sussex Police is required to make public any deviation from the scheme and breaches will require our membership of the scheme to be automatically reviewed by the Home Office.
All forces, including those not in the scheme, must ensure that Stop and Search powers are applied in accordance with the law and only used if necessary
Community Complaints Trigger
You can request a Community Complaints Trigger by completing our online form.
Submissions will be independently reviewed by a Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel made up of members of the public. Reviews can also be requested by a third party such as MP, local councillor, community group, or a carer for a vulnerable person or for someone with disabilities that would prevent them from requesting a case review themselves.
A third party can only request a review on behalf of a subject if they have the subjects consent. Checks will be made to ensure that third party requests are genuine; the subject will be contacted to ensure that they are happy with the request being made.
Stop and Search Independent Scrutiny Panel
Sussex Police regularly hosts a Stop and Search scrutiny panel; meetings take place at Sussex Police HQ in Lewes, comprising community members from across the county. The purpose of the panel is to improve the trust and confidence of communities, and provide an opportunity for members of the public to independently quality assure the use of Stop and Search powers in Sussex. This includes exploring disproportionality of district level data, assessing the lawfulness of grounds and subsequent outcomes of activity.
If you would like to get involved, email Diversity@sussex.pnn.police.uk
Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel minutes
Name: Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel
Location of meeting: MS Teams
Date: Tuesday 6 October 2020
Time: 17.00 – 19.00
AB led round table introduction and welcomed new members.
2 Eastbourne District Stop Search Data
DL provided an overview of their role as Lewes & Eastbourne District Commander and presented to the group Eastbourne District Stop and Search data for the period 1st July 2019 to 30th June 2020. During this period there were 622 searches made of which 550 were unique subjects (meaning the individual had only been stopped once). 72 searches self-identified as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, of which 68 were unique subjects.
Advisors were concerned that the stop search data range for 10-17 year olds was too broad to extract meaningful insight and enquired whether parents or guardians of those stop searches had been notified. DL described how Sussex Police scrutinise all stop searches of under 18’s where police powers have been used and are currently looking at reviewing the policy to ensure that a child’s parent/guardian is always contacted, including those instances where informal stop and account has taken place.
DL outlined that 55.6% of stop searches conducted by police officers were self-initiated. This is where an officer has witnessed something which then leads them to instigate a stop search. Of those people stopped, 63.4% self-identified as either Black, Asian or from a Minority Ethnic background.
Advisors expressed concern at the high level of apparent disproportionality shown by the self-initiated stop search data and shared their own experiences of culturally specific social interaction which may be misconstrued by police officers as being a sign of illegal activity. Advisors asked what training Police officers received to better understand diverse aspects of cultural interaction, in order to avoid similar misinterpretations taking place in future. DL acknowledged the advisors concern and agreed there needed to be a greater understanding and awareness by police of different cultures. DL also affirmed that grounds for search must always be recorded. DL presented data to the group which showed apparent disproportionality of Eastbourne District’s officers with the most recorded stop search. Advisors were interested to find out more about the outcomes of those searches, DL agreed to scrutinise the data further and update at future meetings.
DL then presented data showing what the outcomes were by different ethnicity of those who were found to have an object on them as a result of a stop search. Advisors expressed concern that the total number of ‘no further action’ (NFA) was 76.2% and sought further clarity around this statistic. NM provided the group with different examples of what NFA might mean for example, with regards to children being stopped and searched, depending on the item found, the outcome may be to speak informally with their parent and this would then be classed as NFA.
DL then provided an overview of the impact that the COVID pandemic had on policing and the community in Eastbourne. DL described that Operation Foresight was Sussex Police’s response for homeless people at the start of lock down who needed temporary accommodation. DL noted that Eastbourne had the highest amount of temporary accommodation sites within Sussex. The impact of this was that people from different parts of the county were being housed in Eastbourne which had seen a change in the types of offences being committed, such as anti-social behaviour and increased drug use. This operation was in place throughout the whole of lockdown and led to a number of arrests and recovery of drugs. DL stated Op Foresight had allowed Sussex Police to work closely with local stakeholders and partners in local housing, enabling the force to better understand who is being housed in the town. DL also described Operation Hyphen which resulted from Op Foresight and was in relation to drugs coming into Eastbourne from outside of the town including, from London and Southampton. DL commented on a dispersal operation that took place over the lockdown period in Gildredge Park. The park had seen large gatherings of youths and were having a negative impact on the local community and risked the potential spread of COVID. Advisors thanked DL for their time and looked forward to seeing requested updates at future meetings
- Action: SB to bring data breakdown of 10-17 year olds stop search & the grounds for the stop search at the next meeting.
- Action: DL to bring data of 10-17 year olds linked to county lines for the next meeting.
- Action: DL to provide updated Eastbourne Officer stop search outcome data to the next meeting
3 District Data
DT presented the group 12 months District Stop Search Data by recorded ethnicity across Sussex.
Advisors were keen to see more detailed statistics to include information around stop search statistics for 10-17 year olds at the next meeting.
Between July and October 2020 Sussex Police received one complaint regarding a stop search that took place 10 years ago, where they did not receive a copy of the record of the search.
Advisors expressed that some individuals who have been stopped and searched may lack confidence to make a complaint and were concerned that the complaint/feedback procedure was not always robust enough to acknowledge those concerns. MR informed the group that there are a number of different ways individuals can make complaints/feedback. This can be done via the QR code on the back of the stop and search paper receipt, or via the stop and search record. DT informed the group that individuals should receive a receipt when stopped and searched, which includes details on how to give a complaint or feedback.
Advisors were keen to hear an update about recruitment promotions. DT informed the group there will be an update at the Race Advisory Group where the group will also get the chance to meet the new Race Equality Champion. With regards to support for people interested in applying for jobs in policing Sussex Police are really hopeful that once the COVID restrictions have been reduced the force will be able to engage more with communities to encourage a greater diversity of candidates into a policing career.
New agenda items:
- Grounds for why 10-17 year olds are stopped and searched with data from SB
- All district data for 10 – 17 year olds
Date of next meeting January 11 17.00-19.00 TBC
Title: Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel
Date: Friday 17 July 2020 1400-1530
Venue: MS Teams
ATTENDEE NAMES REDACTED
Item 1 – Welcome
AB welcomed the group, led round the table introductions and advisors agreed housekeeping rules for the meeting.
Item 2 – C19 Enforcement Notices – Disproportionality
SB provided an overview of Operation Apollo, which commenced on 23rd March and was Sussex/Surrey Police’s joint response to policing challenges raised during the Covid-19 period, particularly data relating to disproportionality of fixed penalty notices issued during this period.
Op Apollo was classified as a critical and major incident.
Critical incident: ‘any incident where the effectiveness of the police response is likely to have significant impact on the confidence of the victim, their family or the community’.
Major incident: ‘an event or situation with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangement to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agency’.
Op. Apollo coordinated the response of several public organisations including the Military, Fire and Rescue, local government & health authorities and other key partners as part of the Local Resilience Forum.
SB provided an overview of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) that had been issued during the lockdown period since 23rd March, and provided a detailed presentation looking at the 8th May; which saw the greatest number of
FPNs issued and 12th April; which showed the highest disproportionality. The presentation included the ethnicity, age and area traveling from by those who received fines, as well as the grounds provided by the issuing officer for scrutiny and feedback from advisors. SB also stated that the Home Office was due to publish peer reviewed national Police FPN figures taken during this period and agreed to make this available to advisors when it was released.
SB described the four step plan Sussex Police employed to policing the community during the pandemic: Engaging, Explaining, Encouraging and finally Enforcement. SB Stated it was Sussex Police’s priority to police by consent and maintain community cooperation through positive engagement during this period.
Advisors expressed concern that mixed messages from the media and government had caused confusion, with constantly changing regulations. Advisors also explained that people might have been more reassured had they known this plan for the ‘4 E’s’ was in place. SB agreed with advisors that this had been a challenging time for Sussex Police who often had to interpret and apply guidance from the government which sometimes lacked clarity, he recognised that there were lessons for Sussex Police to learn, particularly around public messaging and thanked advisors for their input.
SB explained to advisors that Sunday the 12th of April showed the greatest disproportionality of BAME FPN recipients (46 in total of which 9 identified as BAME in Brighton alone) and invited advisors to provide feedback on the recorded grounds which were shared. Advisors were in broad agreement that the FPNs were fairly issued but would like to understand in more detail the circumstances of these engagements and the criteria employed to determine when FPN’s were issued. SB stated that it was a challenge to provide information in such granular detail due to the sheer volume of interactions that took place during this time (in the tens of thousands) but understood advisors concerns in relation to transparency and ensuring public trust in the police was maintained.
SB shared data indicating that the most FPNs were issued on 8th May, which was VE day and a public holiday. 104 FPNs were issued across Sussex, 6% self-identified as BAME. 88 of those fines were issued to people who were not Sussex residents. SB asked advisors to consider the ethical dilemma of whether fines should be issued to every member of a group engaged or just to a nominated individual. Advisors felt the ticket should be issued to everyone present as this would reduce the opportunity for bias to take place and as the enforcement stage was the last step in the four part process, advisers felt people had already been afforded every opportunity to comply with the legislation. Advisors commented on how the negative publicity surrounding the activities of certain government officials/advisors during this period had made the police’s role of enforcement much more difficult and were concerned about how enforcement of the forthcoming face mask regulations would be accepted by the public especially if double standards were perceived to be employed. Other advisors agreed and felt consistency of approach was important in order to manage community perceptions of what is going on; they highlighted the apparent discrepancy shown between the ways beachgoers at Bournemouth or Liverpool fans were not moved on by police, whereas a pre-arranged Black Lives Matter event in London attracted police attention, and subsequent outbreak of public disorder.
Action: SB to find out how many under 18’s had their tickets issued to their parents. SB explained that 4 tickets were issued to parents over the whole force during lockdown.
Item 3 – District Data – Times More Likely
DT provided an overview of Sussex Stop and Search disproportionality at district level. The data included ethnicity % for each district for contrasting proportionality. Advisors requested that the next meeting would scrutinise the data for Eastbourne District, with future meetings to consider Rother and Wealden district data and also to consider adding age as an aspect to stop/search scrutiny
Item 5 - AOB
DJ asked advisors for suggestions around ways Sussex Police can be better informed about developing Stop and Search issues at a more local
SB thanked all for attending the meeting.
Date of Next Meeting 8 October
Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday 14th January 2020 18:00-20:00
Sussex Police Headquarters, Church Lane, Lewes BN7 2DZ
Attendees Names Redacted
AB welcomed attendees, introductions were made and previous minutes were summarised.
- Previous Actions
Action 22: Circulate Comparative Stop Search Statics: Sent out with previous minutes.
Action 23: Advisors requested data relating to S163 that led to a S/S or arrest at future meeting: Data was provided during the meeting.
Action 24: Disproportionality data for Gatwick to be presented at the January meeting: Arranged as agenda Item for January.
Action 25: SB to send training dates to panel members: SB awaiting confirmation from training, and will disseminate once received.
Action 26: DT to schedule future meetings 6-8pm: Actioned for future meetings.
- Gatwick Stop and Search / Use of Force Data
MC gave an overview of Gatwick demographics and described how unlike other police districts, Gatwick has no resident population with which to compare proportionality. Gatwick airport serves customers from around the globe and in the UK; providing domestic and international flights. The Airport operator does not record the ethnicity of customers and due to the unique nature of the policing role at Gatwick, passengers are likely to face greater scrutiny from police, to counter the threat posed by terrorism, human trafficking and modern day slavery. MC presented data indicating 141 Stop Searches conducted in Gatwick over the last 12 months. Of these 62(43.97%) were conducted on BAME subjects, and of those 33.3% resulted in an item being found. MC provided verbatim examples of Stop Search grounds for discussion within the group.
Feedback and Advice
Advisors thank MC for the presentation. Advisors asked if the recorded grounds for Stop and Search were similar to those conducted across Sussex communities. MC explained that the grounds were very similar, but the secure environment meant that different legislation was used by various government departments. The complexity of this forms a key part of officer’s induction when joining the Gatwick Policing team. JI inquired why the volume of BAME Stop Searches was so high in comparison to typical district activity. MC explained that visitors to the airport included UK and Global travellers; on business and vacation, and without meaningful data regarding their ethnicity it was not possible to explore proportionality in the same way as Sussex Police does for districts. AB observed the similarity between outcomes for BAME and non BAME. JM asked whether searches are conducted in public or there is a private room. MC confirmed they typically utilise private areas for the initial Search, and any further action would involve taking an individual to the local custody centre for further searching. Advisors asked about gender presentation of police at the airport, MC explained it was almost equal in number, although there were increasing efforts to encourage more women into firearms roles.
- Quality Assurance Body Worn Video (BWV)
SB played BWV footage of stop search activity conducted on New Year’s Eve with a group of men. The video showed the procedure the officers followed before and during the search, for panel members to assess how closely procedures were followed.
8 assessment independent assessments completed, comment included:
- Footage illustrated a chaotic situation with multiple searches at the same time and hard to hear everything going
- Officers were very polite and generally good
- Search carried out professionally in view of several other loud people. Stop and Search records
16 Stop and Search records were assessed as follows:
- 1 x Very good, clear grounds noted
- 12 x Sufficient grounds
- 3 x Vague detail in grounds
- 6 x No BWV indicated
- 1 x ‘Receipt not required’ did not say if offered
- District Disproportionality Data
DT provided an overview of Sussex Stop and Search disproportionality at district level. The data included ethnicity % for each district (based on census 2011) for contrasting proportionality. Panel members requested data relating to Roads Policing for detailed presentation and scrutiny at the next meeting.
There were three complaints received since the last meeting. Details were provided for each, including outcomes, and panel members shared views on how they had been resolved.
Next Meeting: Tuesday 7th April 2020 18:00-20.00, Sussex Police HQ, Lewes
Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday 23 July 2019 18:00-19:30
Sussex Police Headquarters, Church Lane, Lewes BN7 2DZ
JH Deputy Chair
SC Panel member
LS Panel member
MA Panel Member
TS Panel Member
SL Prevention Inspector
MR Local Policing Support Team
RB Local Policing Support Team
DT Diversity Team, Sussex Police
MS Diversity Team, Sussex Police Names will be redacted when published on the internet Apologies: HH, CY, DH, IAST,AN,JM,CW, JM,ML
AB welcomed attendees, introductions were made and previous minutes were summarised.
- Previous Actions
Action 14: DJ/DT to circulate recruitment poster examples to Advisors. Attached to minutes
Action 15: DJ/DT to arrange for contact centre to provide an input at the RAG meeting on how they respond to 101 contact from people where English is not their first language. This was an agenda item at the June RAG meeting.
Action 16: SB/DT include district ethnicity % in future district overview reports. Data now included.
Action 17: Advisors requested that disproportionality data for Horsham district should be scrutinized at the July meeting. July agenda.
Action 18: DJ to arrange with Sgt Peter Allan for S/S data for next TNBI ERG. This was an agenda item at the July TRANS ERG meeting.
Action 19: MLeF/DJ to send e-poster to be distributed to wider networks. Sent with previous minutes.
- Horsham District Stop and Search /Use of Force Data
SL provided an overview of the 386 Stop Searches (S/S) conducted in Horsham District between April 2018 and March 2019. 27% resulted in an item being found and in 49% of those interventions police found what they were looking for. SL added that of the 23 subjects identified as black, only two were local Horsham residents, none were repeat subjects. SL outlined two case studies which showed different grounds for intervention when S/S was carried out. SL gave an overview of Supervisor Scrutiny and the District focus was to improve the volume of supervisor comments.
Feedback and Advice: Advisors thanked SL for the presentation. Some advisors expressed their concern about the breakdown of the figures shown in the charts used throughout the presentation, as a considerable percentage of the S/S conducted was categorised under “unknown” with no further details .Advisors requested more clarification and more accurate measures to be taken into consideration for the future records.
Action 20: MR, to clarify at the next meeting.
JI emphasised the importance of clearly recording legitimate grounds before conducting S/S.
The advisors asked whether the presentation could be prepared earlier so they could look at it in advance.
- Quality Assurance:
Stop Search Records
MR returned the following results from the panel’s scrutiny of 13 S/S records during the meeting: 12 x sufficient grounds 1 x insufficient grounds
Detail in records
8x Body Worn Video,
5x indicated they did not record on BWV.
4 x Indicated ‘no receipt offered’ because of arrest.
1 x Had no detail after a Stanley knife was found and indicated NFA. Upon further investigation everything was recorded in detail on another force system relating to call.
1 x Questioned due to lack of grounds. This was a section 60 authorisation search which allows an officer to stop without suspicions on a particular individual.
- District Disproportionality Data
DT provided an overview of Sussex S/S disproportionality at district level between July 2018 and June ’19. The data included ethnicity % for each district (based on census 2011) for contrasting proportionality. There were a number of districts which showed levels of disproportionality for S/S conducted on BAME subjects as a proportion of overall population. It was noted that the presented data did not distinguish between S/S that were conducted on individuals who lived outside of the district and those who were local residents.
Hastings recorded 384 S/S in the last year, 46 of those were black subjects, resulting in ratio of black subjects being 11 times more likely to be S/S that white subjects.
Action 20: Advisors requested that disproportionality data for Hastings district at the October meeting and Worthing in January should be scrutinized.
- Complaints, Stop Search
MR updated on two complaints that had been submitted to Sussex Police since last meeting. The two complainants were both white males.
- The first complainant wasn’t happy that he was S/S by a number of officers which he deemed to be excessive and that he was S/S in front of his children and whilst wearing his company’s
- The second complainant was exiting a field that he had been carrying out pest control in when he was S/S by officers who had reports from the public of shots being fired .He explained to the officers that he had a firearms licence and permission from the land owner but the officers searched his vehicle the complainant considers that they didn’t have legitimate grounds to either search his vehicle or inspect his
TS recounted a personal experience of a S/S, which was conducted on him in a manner that suggested he was singled out because of his ethnicity.
Action 21: DT to liaise the matter with the relevant team - MR and AL. Next Meeting:
Date of Next Meeting: Tue 22 October 18:00-19.30, Sussex Police HQ, Lewes