In short section 60 can be defined as the power of the police to stop and search any person in anticipation of violence. If a superintendent believes that incidents involving violence are likely to occur and it is expedient to do so to prevent their occurrence, he may give authorisation to stop and search people and vehicles within a specified area for up to 24 hours.
Therefore the uniformed cops of any rank can stop people and vehicles and search them for weapons or dangerous instruments. No suspicion that the person or vehicle has weapons is required. Any weapons or dangerous instruments may be seized.
The general advice concerning searches applies (i.e. pat down only, cop of same gender etc.). The (uniformed) cops can also require that any item be removed which the cop thinks is wholly or mainly for concealing identity (e.g. masks). The cops can also seize any item which they reasonably believe any person intends to wear wholly or mainly for that purpose. Failing to remove an item when required to do so by a constable in the exercise of his power under this section is an arrestable offence with maximum imprisonment of one month or a fine or both.
However, items “wholly or mainly for concealing identity” must be distinguished from everyday wear. In R v Gray wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses was everyday wear and therefore not an item wholly or mainly for concealing identity.
s60 does not give the cops the power to take your name and address (despite what they may say about the need to give you a record of the search – this can be done noting that you refused to give your name and address). Nor may they take your photograph (although the cops will argue that they can do this in any public place); conduct intimate searches; or search things like wallets and purses, which are too small to contain a weapon.
The written legislation:
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
- S60 Powers to stop and search in anticipation of violence
If a police officer of or above the rank of inspector reasonably believes -
(a) that incidents involving serious violence may take place in any locality in his police area, and that it is expedient to give an authorisation under this section to prevent their occurrence, or
(b) that persons are carrying dangerous instruments or offensive weapons in any locality in his police area without good reason, he may give an authorisation that the powers conferred by this section are to be exercisable at any place within that locality for a specified period not exceeding 24 hours.
(4) This section confers on any constable in uniform power -
(a) to stop any pedestrian and search him or anything carried by him for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments;
(b) to stop any vehicle and search the vehicle, its driver and any passenger for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments.
(5) A constable may, in the exercise of the powers conferred by subsection (4) above, stop any person or vehicle and make any search he thinks fit whether or not he has any grounds for suspecting that the person or vehicle is carrying weapons or articles of that kind.
(6) If in the course of a search under this section a constable discovers a dangerous instrument or an article which he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be an offensive weapon, he may seize it.
(10A) A person who is searched by a constable under this section shall be entitled to obtain a written statement that he was searched under the powers conferred by this section if he applies for such a statement not later than the end of the period of twelve months from the day on which he was searched.
- 60AA Powers to require removal of disguises
(2) This subsection confers power on any constable in uniform -
(a) to require any person to remove any item which the constable reasonably believes that person is wearing wholly or mainly for the purpose of concealing his identity;
(b) to seize any item which the constable reasonably believes any person intends to wear wholly or mainly for that purpose.
(7) A person who fails to remove an item worn by him when required to do so by a constable in the exercise of his power under this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month or to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale or both.