In Scotland, the Police can stop and search you without having a search warrant if they suspect you of being in possession of:

  • Drugs
  • An offensive weapon
  • Stolen property
  • Alcohol if you are at certain major football or rugby matches or on public transport travelling to such an event when alcohol is not allowed
  • Evidence in relation to an offence under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002
  • Cash or the cash equivalent of £1,000 or more and that this is a result of criminal activity
  • Fireworks that you intend to use anti-socially

Before they stop and search you they must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that they will find one or more of the above. There are a few exceptions to this rule, for example, if a serious violent incident has taken place, the police can stop and search you without having reasonable grounds for suspecting that they will find any of these things listed above.

The Police cannot stop and search you because of who you are, for example, your race or religion, sexual orientation or gender.

The Police must ask for consent to being searched by them in the street. They should always make it clear that consent is being sought. Unless you agree, the search should not take place. Someone who has difficulty in understanding when asked for consent to a search, for example children and vulnerable people, may have their human rights breached. If you think that you or a family member has been searched in a way that it is a breach of human rights, you may want to challenge the treatment by the police. You can get specialist human rights help.

Find out further information about Police powers in Scotland.