Stop & Search

Camden Stop and Search Monitoring Group

The work of the Camden Stop and Search Monitoring Group (SSMG) is overseen by Camden Safer Neighbourhood Board. It is independent of the police, but works in partnership.

The SSMG aims to provide communities with confidence that the police are using their powers fairly and appropriately.

The role of the SSMG is to:

  • Hold Camden police to account
    • a) by direct observation on the ground
    • b) by monitoring data as to
      • (i) ratio of arrests to searches
      • (ii) ethnicity of those stopped and searched
  • Scrutinise the operational use of stop and search
  • Provide local communities with a voice into their local police to communicate their experiences of street encounters

In addition to this the Camden Safer Neighbourhood Board has asked the SSMG to:

  • Oversee the police use of Notice to Leave powers
  • Monitor use of CS spray and tasers by Camden officers in the borough.

To fulfil its role the SSMG meets four times a year. The next meeting will be taking place on Tuesday 20 September, 6.30 pm, at Camden Town Hall. It positively encourages representation from all of Camden’s diverse communities. If you feel you have something to contribute and might be interested in joining the group please email Peter Ward admin@camdensnb.org.uk.

Stop and Search Community Monitoring Network

The MOPAC Community Monitoring Network is a pan-London body open to representatives from the Stop and Search Monitoring Groups from all the London boroughs. It has two meetings every quarter, one open to borough representatives only and the other including police officers responsible for Stop and Search policy and practice as well. It is an opportunity to learn from what other boroughs are doing to monitor Stop and Search in their areas and to recognise best practice.

Youth Independent Advisors

Youth Independent Advisors (YIA) is a scheme run by CSNB. It is made up of young volunteers aged from 15 to 19 years from whom the police, council and other agencies can seek advice on matters relating to crime and community safety.

The main focus of the Youth Independent Advisory Group is to engage with the police and local council on areas such as:

  • Attending briefing meeting
  • Observing stop and search operations
  • Providing input into police training, particularly with regards to youth engagement
  • Advising the police in engagement activities in school and youth clubs
  • Encouraging young people to complain when they feel aggrieved
    • Consultation on Dispersal Notices
    • Designing out crime on estates
    • Being consulted on improvements to the public realm

Youth Independent Advisory Group also socialise, and enjoy team-building activities such as go-karting and trips, all of which helps to enhance the dynamics of the group.  In addition, members of the YIA can have observers’ access to various aspects of police training; including stop and search, the use of quick cuffs, restraining techniques and firearms.

Young people often have little confidence in the police and at times see them as aggressive and disrespectful. The YIA aims to rebuild young people’s trust and confidence in the police by addressing their concerns. The police have always given their full support to the YIA, which demonstrates how seriously they take the views of young people.

To find out more contact us on 020 7383 0000 or email youth@camdensnb.org.uk

Police powers to stop and search: Know Your Rights

The police have powers to stop and question you at any time – they can search you depending on the situation.

A police community support officer (PCSO) must be in uniform when they stop and question you. A police officer doesn’t always have to be in uniform but if they’re not wearing uniform they must show you their warrant card.

Stop and question: police powers

A police officer has powers to stop you at any time and ask you:

  • what you’re doing
  • why you’re in an area and/or where you’re going

However, you don’t have to answer any questions the police officer asks you.

Stop and search: police powers

A police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:

  • illegal drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen property
  • something which could be used to commit a crime, eg a crowbar

You can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if it is suspected that:

  • serious violence could take place
  • you’re carrying a weapon or have used one
  • you’re in a specific location or area

Before you’re searched

Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you:

  • their name and police station
  • what they expect to find, eg drugs
  • the reason they want to search you, eg it looks like you’re hiding something
  • why they are legally allowed to search you
  • that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy

Removing clothing: police powers

A police officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves.

The police might ask you to take off other clothes and anything you’re wearing for religious reasons – eg a veil or turban. If they do, they must take you somewhere out of public view.

If the officer wants to remove more than a jacket and gloves they must be the same sex as you.

Being searched doesn’t mean you’re being arrested.