What Powers Do Police Community Support Officers Have?

Do PCSOs Have the Right to Stop and Search?

If a member of the police force has recently performed a stop and search on you or someone you know, it’s important that you know your rights.

A police officer is permitted by law to search you or your vehicle without a warrant only if they have reasonable grounds to believe that you are currently in illegal possession of controlled drugs (under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971), that you are carrying an offensive weapon, stolen property, display level pyrotechnics or any other item that could be used as part of a crime (under Code A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994), or articles connected with terrorism (under Sections 43 and 47A of the Terrorism Act 2000).

They may also search you if they believe you are likely to incite violence, you were in possession of a weapon recently, or have threatened to use one, or that there are certain restrictions on the area through which you are currently travelling.

But are police officers the only law enforcement officials who can undertake stop and searches? Can a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) conduct a search?

Here, we’ll explain PCSO powers of these kinds to help you understand your rights. You should report any unlawful actions taken against you by the police.

Stop and Search: What Powers do PCSOs Have?

The rights of a PCSO to perform any kind of stop and search depend very much on their jurisdiction. The police constable for your area will have decided on your locality’s specific police community support officer powers, so you should check with your local police force if you feel that anything untoward has happened.

Many areas allow PCSOs to perform a stop and search if they suspect a person of underage possession of alcohol or tobacco products, or of drinking in an alcohol-free zone. They are also sometimes permitted to search you if they are awaiting the arrival of a police officer to deal with an issue in which you are involved and have reason to suspect you are carrying a weapon or any other item you may use to cause them harm. If a PCSO has a police officer with them, they are also sometimes allowed to search people or vehicles if they suspect that they are carrying items that are restricted under the Section 47A of the Terrorism Act 2000.

How Should an Officer or PCSO Behave During a Stop and Search?

If you feel you’ve been treated incorrectly during a stop and search, you should first check to see what rules exist for law enforcers to adhere to as part of this process.

These are as follows:

An officer or PCSO should always tell you that they will be searching you, and under which law they will be doing so. They should also inform you of their name and officer ID number, as well as the name of their police station.

You should also always be told why you have been stopped and what the officials in question are hoping to find by searching you. They are permitted to use reasonable force if you refuse to cooperate.

You may be asked to remove a coat, jacket, gloves, footwear, headgear or any items the law enforcer believes you may be using to disguise your identity. Many officers take people out of view of the public if they are required to remove religious headwear.

 You have a right to obtain a record or receipt of the search.

If an officer or PCSO uses inappropriate, threatening or prejudiced language or unnecessary force during a search, you have the right to lodge a complaint and take legal action against the police. For further information and advice on this matter, simply get in touch with DPP Law today via our useful contact form.