Your Rights When Dealing with the Police

Support From The Police

In some circumstances, if you are a victim of a serious crime such as rape, or if you are a family member of a murder victim, you may be supported by a Family Liaison Officer.

This person will be specially trained to act as a link between the police carrying out the investigation into the crime and the family.

Complaints About the Police

If you have a complaint about a police officer, a police force or a police organisation then you should have a look at the Police Scotland website on how to make a complaint.

You can also take your issue to the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner, who as well as handling the complaint will let you know what your options are and what will happen next. 

Stop & Search

The police can stop and search you without a search warrant if they suspect that you're in possession of:

  • drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen goods
  • alcohol
  • fireworks that you intend to use anti-socially

There are a few exceptions, such as a serious violent incident taking place, where the police can stop and search you without having reasonable grounds for suspecting that they will find any of these things listed above.

For a full list of police powers and the powers of stop, search and seizure see the Citizens Advice Bureau - Advice Guide website. There's lots more information on the site on how searches should be conducted and stopping and searching vehicles.

Moving On

The police have the power to move you on if they believe that you:

  • are obstructing the lawful passage of any other person in a public place
  • if you are conducting yourself in a riotous or disorderly manner anywhere, to the alarm, annoyance or disturbance of the public 

If you have been asked to move on, you are entitled to ask for a reason and should expect to receive one but if you refuse to move you are likely to be charged with an offence.