05 October 2021
What are your rights if approached by a police officer?
B P Collins’ criminal lawyer, James Constable, provides the answers.
- If I am driving a car and I have an unmarked police car behind me with a single male driver, do I have to pull over, or can I legally drive to a police station?
If a car flashes you to pull over, you do not have to stop unless you are certain it is a police officer. It is an offence to fail to stop for police, so when you have seen the car you should acknowledge you have seen and will be pulling over; don’t accelerate and drive to the nearest police station or public place such as a petrol station. You are legally allowed to drive to a well-lit public area to pull over. If you drive for a while you may be charged with failing to stop and it would ultimately be a question for the Court to decide if an offence has been committed.
- If I am not convinced that it is a police car behind me which is wanting me to stop is real, can I contact the police by phone to confirm if they are real without breaking the law?
If you are unsure you can indicate that you are pulling over and drive to a public place before stopping. If in a remote area drive to a house that appears to be occupied and park in their driveway. You can keep your doors locked until they have shown their warrant card, which should show their name and photograph.
- If a single male police officer wants to question me at night, or wants to arrest me, can I insist that another officer attends?
You can ask for another officer to be present, if the officer refuses you can call 999. You can also ask for the search to be conducted in a well-lit or public area.
- Can a male officer do a stop and search on a female?
There is no law that prohibits a male officer from searching a female. They also do not need to be in uniform, but they do need to show their warrant card before they begin. They must have reasonable grounds to suspect someone is carrying drugs, a weapon or stolen property. An officer must state their name, police station, what they are searching for, and the reason for the search.
- If I am stopped for a motoring offence, and I am being stopped by one male officer, before getting into his car, can I request another officer is called to the scene?
You can request not to enter a male officer’s vehicle until another officer is present. You can request the officer to call for another officer or call 999 yourself.
The B P Collins’ criminal team would be happy to take your call and provide further advice around the topic, contact our specialist team on 01753 889995 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.