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  • Namita Pawa

If you are stopped by the police, what should you do?

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

If you are stopped by the police in England, here's what you should consider doing.

Remain Calm

Stay calm and composed. Keep your hands visible and avoid making sudden movements.


Follow the officer's instructions and cooperate with their requests. This includes providing your name, address, and other basic information if asked.

Ask for Identification

If the officer doesn't immediately identify themselves, politely ask for their name, badge number, and the police station they are from.

Know your Rights

You have the right to ask why you're being stopped and what the reason for the stop is. You also have the right to know under which legal authority the stop is being conducted (e.g., Section 1 PACE).

Stay Polite and Respectful

Maintain a polite and respectful attitude towards the police officer. Avoid arguing, resisting, or becoming confrontational, even if you believe the stop is unjustified.

Provide ID and Information

If you're driving a vehicle, you should provide your driver's licence, vehicle registration, and insurance information when asked and if available. If not available, ask the officer if you can produce it to a police station at a later date.

Comply with Searches

If the police officer has reasonable grounds to search you or your belongings, it is generally advisable to cooperate. However, you have the right to ask for a record of the search and the officer's information.

Ask if you're Free to Go

If you're unsure whether the stop is complete, you can ask the officer if you are free to leave. If they say yes, you can calmly and respectfully leave the scene.

Stay Silent or Seek Legal Advice

You have the right to remain silent and not answer questions that might incriminate you. If you're uncomfortable with the situation or unsure about your rights, you are perfectly entitled to request legal advice before answering any questions.

Document the Encounter

If possible, make mental notes or even jot down details of the encounter, including the officer's name, badge number, date, time, location, and any significant details about the interaction. Ask the officer if you can write down key information or enter this into your phone.

File a Complaint

If you believe the stop was not conducted fairly or your rights were violated, you can file a complaint with the police department's Professional Standards Unit or the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Every person should be treated fairly and with respect at all times. If you are stopped by the police, remain calm and be polite throughout the encounter as this can impact the outcome. If you feel that your rights were infringed upon during the stop, seek legal advice to understand your options.

Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.


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