Rice vs Conolly (Queens Bench Division)


The appellant was seen by police officers in the early hours of the morning behaving suspiciously in an area where on the same night breaking offences had taken place. On being questioned he refused to say where he was going or where he had come from. He refused to give his full name and address, though he did give a name and the name of a road, which were not untrue. He refused to accompany the police to a police box for identification purposes, saying, “If you want me, you will have to arrest me”. He was arrested and charged with wilfully obstructing the police contrary to s. 51 (3) * of the Act of 1964. On appeal it was conceded that “wilfully” imported something done without lawful excuse.

* Section 51 (3), so far as material, provides: “Any person who… wilfully obstructs a constable in the execution of his duty… shall be guilty of an offence…”


Although every citizen had a moral or social duty to assist the police, there was no relevant legal duty to that effect in the circumstances of the present case, and the appellant had been entitled to decline to answer the questions put to him and (prior to his arrest) to accompany the police officer on request to the police box to establish identity; accordingly, in the circumstances, “wilful obstruction” by the appellant was not established, although he had been obstructive, because no obstruction without lawful excuse had been established (see p. 652, letters D
and I, post).

Meaning of “obstruction” stated in Hinchcliffe v. Sheldon ([1955] 3 All E.R. at p. 408, letter F) applied.

stop and search, case law, know your rights

The police are your public servants, they are employed to protect and serve the public against anything unlawful, and they are there to serve the public.

Collins v Wilcock – 1984


A police officer wished to question a woman in relation to her alleged activity as a prostitute. The woman decided to walk away, but the police officer was intent on stopping her and in order to do so, grabbed her arm in order to prevent her from walking away. Under the Street Offences Act 1959 c.57, the police officer had no power to detain the woman. The woman struggled with the police officer and scratched him. She was charged with assaulting a police office in the course of his duty.


The issue in this case was whether the conviction for assaulting a police officer was lawful given the lack of legal authority on the part of the police office to restrain the woman.


It was held that the police officer was acting outside the scope of his powers as he had no power to arrest the woman in that situation and therefore, was acting outside of the scope of his duties as a police officer. There was no question therefore of assaulting a police officer in the course of his duty. It was held further that the grabbing on the part of the police officer, without the power to make an arrest, amounted to an unlawful assault (a battery). The woman had been entitled to resist as an action of self-defence. Her conviction was therefore quashed.

justice, right, legal

Always remember! Case law is one of the most powerful tools you could ever possess when it comes to knowing what you can and what you cant do. It details the rights of both yourselves and anyone who tries to overstep their scopes of powers. so always pay attention to case law!

Stop and Search: How to act

There are 3 types of scenarios with the police

1. Contact/encounter (when the police interacts with you)
2. Stop/detention/detainment (when the police stops you for further questioning)
3.Arrest/taken into custody

Contact consensual conversation is a type of conversational technique aimed to open a verbal contract and gain your consent without you realising. Once a dialogue has been established between two parties, it opens and establishes an open contract between you and the other party.

Officer: “It’s a nice day isn’t it? What are you up to? Are you shopping? I’m just walking around making sure your safe”

Aimed at establishing contact consensual conversation.

Important Notes:

  • Always be aware an officer is never off duty!
  • During your first contact, you have a right to keep silent
  • Without engaging, the police gain no power through what’s called reasonable articulate suspicion
  • The police can walk along with/around you in public to observe you

3 Golden Rules

1. Keep your mouth shut
2. Never give your consent
3. Be polite

Important Note:

Remember they need your consent, they need you to understand in order for their terms and conditions to be enforced.

When being approached by an officer

When approached by a police officer, the police officer has a right to feel safe and to be made safe; we have to be aware of this. Always keep your hands out of your pocket; it is in your rights to do so for they may suspect you of having something. Officers have the power to frisk (Openly tap) you with reasonable doubt, that you may have a weapon.

If you have been approached and you are made to give your details on a presumption there is a crime, You should say:

You: Are you operating on the assumption that I am a criminal? And if you are I take offence to that, now unless you have any reasonable articulate suspicion, I am leaving.

The officer will normally say

Officer: “if you don’t answer my questions I’m going to arrest you!”

Typical intimidation tactics which work most of the time and can get one to talk and give information

Important Notes:

  • To be arrested without probable cause, is what’s caused an unlawful detainment, so be prepared to go into a cell for a few hours, if it means sticking to your rights.
  • Many people wave their rights goodbye because of the fear that they will be arrested and be made to sit in a police cell.
  • A police needs probable cause to detain you, you have a right to walk away if there’s no probable cause, if you feel intimidated or bullied, it is within your rights to speak accordingly.

Know what to say. Always be polite

If a police officer comes to you and starts his/her conversation with Immediately reach for mobile phone, start recording and make sure it’s in view.

Officer: “Excuse me sir, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Your Reply should be:

You: Hello officer! I recognise your contact, what is the nature of your ATTENDED DETENTION?

Officer: “You cannot record this conversation” (If the officer replies like this, than be polite and be ready to respond

You: “Thank you for your time, goodbye”

But if the officer says, you’re not free to go. You should reply with:

You: “What is the nature of the attended detention did you witness me breach the peace?”

Officer: “No”

You: “I am now reserving my right NOT to speak to a police officer who has NOT witnessed me breach the peace, Thank you and good day” (BE POLITE)

At this point, you attempt to walk away, But what if the officer asks to see identification.
Your reply should be:

You: “Am I obliged to show any identification?”

Officer: “Can I have your name?”

You: “Am I obliged to give you my name?”

The answer to these questions should be NO, if the police officer replies with YES, than he is acting UNLAWFULLY and outside his scope of powers

Your Reply should be: “Am I free to go?”

From this point on just repeat “am I free to go”? This is all been recorded by your phone, so there’s no need to panic or get confrontational. If the police detain you, than you have a right to ask if you are under arrest. If you sense that the police officer is going to arrest you or detain you say:

You: “Officer, I am a peaceful man, there is no need for force or violence, however you are obliged to note, that I am operating under protest and duress at all times. I reserve all of my rights at all time and in no way waive any of my rights for no reason, or no cause”

Important Notes:

  • Under protest and duress means that if anything happened to you, you did not give your permission (consent) to it, so if you sign anything, write next to it under duress which indicates that your where somewhat bullied into submission
  • Always question carefully

What do do when in the police station

  • DO NOT give them PERMISSION to take finger prints unless you have committed a crime
  • DO NOT give them CONSENT to ask you further questions (say “I do not consent”)
  • DO NOT give them consent to put their hands on you
  • Act Honourably

If you have:

  • Caused harm to anyone’s property or individual
  • Loss to anyone’s property
  • Frauds in your contracts

than you need to take your punishment like a man/woman, but for statutory regulations, they ALL need your CONSENT, so when in the police cell:

  • Get some sleep to pass time
  • Ignore all forms of intimidation
  • Try not get angry or emotional. Stay Humble

You are not required to give without consent:

  • Blood samples/DNA
  • Urine samples
  • Without your information, they HAVE to release you!

During the Interview process

  • Always maintain eye contact
  • Don’t give any indication that you’re nervous/afraid
  • Don’t show signs of aggression
  • Don’t get emotional
  • Keep a cool head
  • Don’t answer questions
  • Reply with “No Comment”

Important Notes:

  • They key thing here is that they can only police you by CONSENT when working with statutory regulations, they NEED your CONSENT in order to do so.
  • If the police officers realise they have unlawfully arrested you, beware! For they may try getting something on you while you’re in your cell to justify the arrest and avoid any legal action. This has been known to happen!
  • Never sign any paperwork in the police station except to receive your belongings.

Police powers

A police officer or a police community support officer (PCSO) in uniform can stop you but only police officers can search you. A police officer does not have to be in uniform but they must show you their warrant (ID) card. They can search you, anything you are carrying and a vehicle.

What you should be told

The police officer or police community support officer must explain why you’re being stopped and why you’re being asked to account for your actions or presence in an area.

In almost all cases, you should be offered a record of the stop and account or stop and search at the time it happens.

The police use these powers to help make the local community safer by preventing and detecting crime. Naturally, public cooperation is an essential part of that.

Where you can be searched

Stop and search most often happens in public places. However, there are some powers, such as searching for firearms or drugs, which allow police to search people anywhere.

If you’re in a public place, you may be required to remove your coat or jacket and your gloves, unless you’ve been stopped in relation to terrorism or where the officer believes you are using clothes to hide your identity.

If the officer asks you to take off more than this, or anything you wear for religious reasons, such as a face scarf, veil or turban, they must take you somewhere out of public view. This doesn’t mean you’re being arrested.

What to expect from the officer stopping or searching you

The officer must be polite and respectful at all times. We are committed to continuously improving standards around the delivery of service to our communities.

We’re aware that the process may take a little time but it should be handled quickly and professionally. The police officer may ask a few questions and then, if they consider it necessary, will search you.

The search is not voluntary. Please note if you don’t cooperate the officer can use reasonable force to conduct the search.

If the officer has a body worn video camera they’ll record the encounter unless it’s considered no longer necessary or proportionate.

If you’re in a vehicle

A police officer can legally stop any vehicle at any time and ask to see driving documents, check the condition of the vehicle or deal with driving offences. This is not a stop and search and you may be given documentation relevant to road traffic matters. If the entire process ends there, this is considered a ‘vehicle stop’.

It becomes a stop and account if you or any passengers with you are asked to account for themselves.

If a police officer then searches the vehicle or persons in it, this is a stop and search.

The police officer who stops and searches you must provide you with certain information including:

  • why you’ve been stopped and searched
  • why they chose you
  • what they’re looking for
  • their name and the station where they’re based (unless the search is in relation to suspected terrorist activity or giving his or her name may place the officer in danger. They must then give their warrant ID number)
  • the law under which you’ve been stopped
  • your right to a copy of the form

The information you’ll be asked for

The police officer will ask for your:

  • name and address
  • date of birth
  • self-defined ethnicity

You don’t have to give this information.

What you’ll be given

You should be offered one of the following:

  • a written record of the stop and search
  • a receipt at the time of the event
  • a copy of the record emailed to you
  • you may be told where to collect the record later

If you wish to complain either about being stopped or searched or the way it was carried out, this record/receipt will help identify the circumstances.

The search record must contain the following information:

  • the officer’s details
  • date, time and place of the stop and search
  • reason for the stop and search
  • outcome of the stop and search
  • your self-defined ethnicity
  • vehicle registration number (if relevant)
  • what the officer was looking for and anything they found
  • your name or a description if you refuse to give your name


You’ve not been subject to a stop and search if, for example:

  • you’re searched as a condition of entry to premises or an event
  • you’re searched following an arrest
  • you’re searched in premises that are being searched under a warrant from a court

In cases like these, a stop and search record will not be made and you’ll not be given a receipt.

You’ve not been subject to stop and account if, for example:

  • you stop an officer to ask for directions or information
  • you’ve witnessed a crime and are questioned about it to establish the background to the incident
  • you’ve been in an area where a crime recently occurred and are questioned about what you might have seen

In cases like these, a record of the encounter will not be made and you’ll not be given a receipt.


Your Rights

The police have the power to stop and search you if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you have been involved in a crime, or think that you are in possession of a prohibited item. Prohibited items include drugs, weapons and stolen property. Depending on what the police find on you during a search, you could be arrested.

The main legislation that covers police use of stop and search is the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Searches for controlled drugs are covered by section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

You shouldn’t be stopped and searched because of your race, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or faith, the way you dress, the language you speak, or because you have committed a crime in the past.

The police can use ‘reasonable force’ if you try not to be searched, which could lead to you being arrested.
Before you are searched the police officer should tell you:

  • Their name;
  • The name of their police station;
  • What they are looking for; and,
  • That you are entitled to have a copy of the search record.

If the police have reasonable grounds to think that you are in possession of a controlled drug then the officer must tell you the law that they are going to search you under and give the reasons for the search. The College of Policing’s authorised professional practice on stop and search training for police officers states ‘smell of cannabis’ alone is not enough to constitute reasonable suspicion for stop and search. Release advocates that this should be legislated for, brought into Code A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and applied nationwide.

There are other reasons that a police officer may want to search you, but in most cases they must have reasonable grounds to suspect they will find what they are looking for. The exception are searches under ‘non reasonable suspicion’ powers, which can be used where a police officer holding the rank of at least superintendent — although the voluntary ‘Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme’, which police forces are signed up to, states authorisation should be given by an Assistant Chief Constable — has issued an authority for stop and searches to take place without reasonable suspicion due to a belief that serious violence will occur in an area or that people are carrying offensive weapons. These searches are known as ‘section 60 searches’ and are authorised under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, The use of this power can only be applied to a specific area for a maximum of 48 hours.

The officer can only require a person to remove outer clothing in public e.g. a coat, jacket, gloves or another item concealing your identity. They can put their hand inside your shoes, socks or headgear if they believe something is hidden. They will ask you to turn your pockets inside out, or they will pat these items down.

If they want you to remove any other items of clothing, this is either called a ‘more thorough search’ (e.g. removing a jumper or t-shirt) or a ‘strip search’, which involves the removal of all clothing. A more thorough search can take place in the back of a police van or somewhere else that is out of public view. A strip search can only take place in a police station or a designated area like a police tent. A strip search must be done out of public view and by an officer of the same sex, without any officer of the opposite sex able to see. If you are 17 years old or under a strip search can only take place in the presence of an appropriate adult.

The officer must provide a reason for needing to search further. The reason cannot be that nothing has been found, yet.

Removal of any religious items must be treated in the same way as a more thorough search.

If you are uncomfortable, ask for more privacy. If they fail to provide you with this ask them to put this in their records. Stop and search should not be a humiliating experience.

Your right to a copy of the search form

The police should be professional, polite and respectful when searching you. The officer must fill out a form giving the reasons for stopping and searching you and give you a copy of this unless it is not possible to (many forces have digitised this process and will give you a reference number allowing you to retrieve a copy of the form from the police station). You can ask for a copy of the form anytime within 3 months of the search.

Y-Stop App

Y-Stop – a stop and search project developed by young people, for young people

For advice on stop and search check out Y-Stop, Release’ stop and search project run in partnership with StopWatch. This project was developed over a two-year period with young people across London.

Y-Stop has several handy tips for helping you deal with a stop and search. These can be memorised using the acronym S.E.A.R.C.H. 

  • Stay Calm – keep yourself calm at all times to help ensure a clear and quick resolution.
  • Eye Contact – be polite so that it makes it harder for anger or fear to better you.
  • Ask Questions – this not a confrontation. Ask questions about the process as the police need to account for themselves.
  • Receipt – get written proof of the search and ensure that this has been completed truthfully.
  • Record – you have a right to record the search, but you must ask permission to do so before reaching for a video recording device. Filming protects everyone’s interests.
  • Confidence – know your rights.
  • Hold to account – following the above steps can encourage the police to behave properly.

Y-Stop has a handy app that lets you record a police stop and search and to complain directly to the police if you are unhappy with the way you have been treated by an officer. Release and StopWatch receive a copy of your complaint so the police know a third party is involved.

Should you be arrested by the police and taken to your local police station following a stop and search please do ensure that you seek legal advice/representation when you are at the station. This will be in your best interests, no matter how trivial you believe the matter to be. You have a right to seek legal counsel and should use it.
All advice and assistance in the police station is free of charge. Do not be duped by officers stating it will take hours for a solicitor to reach you so you may as well be interviewed quickly. Invariably a lawyer can be with you within the hour, so you should wait it out.

Further Reading on Police guidelines


Crime and Security Act 2010


Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

App Downloads


A stop and search project by young people for young people