UK Police - procedures for search of a female

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by Jang Bong, Oct 21, 2006.

  1. Jang Bong

    Jang Bong Speak softly....big stick

    Could anyone involved with UK law tell me if what my wife experienced this week is lawfull (probably) and acceptable (I think not).

    A local gym with a spate of thefts called in the police who set up a 'sting' operation. My wife saw a woman carelessly drop her her purse into her open bag and leave it - she follwed the woman out to warn her but she was 'on the phone' and didn't want to intrude.

    She passed a few words with her friend in the gym before going to the studio to do a class.

    Later, when she'd left the gym and walked up towards a local cafe with a male friend they were approached by 2 large rough-looking men who held something up to her and said "Can I interest you in this?" Her initial reaction (thinking it was a salesman) was "NO", but when she saw enough of it to realise it was a police card (probably a warrant card - but not enough time to see), then her attitude was "Right - no problems". Her friend as asked to remove himself while they talked to her.

    They both questioned her harshly and abruptly - interrupting her answers and (from the description she gave me) badgering her. They examined her only £10 note against a list, and wanted to go through her bag. She didn't want that to be done in the street (dirty gym kit and 'female' things in the bag), and she was not going to go down a back alley they indicated (which I know leads to the police car park). At this point she was wondering if they WERE cops, or potential rapists with a made-up card :(

    She insisted on being taken to the police station (about 30-yards). She was taken into an interview cubicle and everything was taken out of her bag and spread around the floor. Comments were being made about all her stuff "You have a lot of stuff here", "Do you need all this?", "Why do you have so many plasters?", and all the time the attitude was extremely accusatory.

    Then they brought a female officer in to strip-search her. The room was small, and there was a full length glass strip in the door. She had to strip to her bra on the upper body, and because of 'big knickers' she needed to drop everything down below. As this was going on the door was attempted to be opened a couple of times, and the female officer was forced to SHOUT at the men to go away and give her time.

    The male officer's comment when he came back in was "You're free to go - you have nothing on you that we are interested in. I hope this hasn't given you a bad impression of the police".

    Typed in black and white, it doesn't sound too bad - but nothing can describe the trauma and humiliation she felt at being treat the way they did. They 'crime' she had committed??? The friend she spoke to was one of the suspects (what happened to her was even worse - and she was totally innocent as well :woo: ).

    She has neurological problems (suspected M.S.), and needs to keep stresss and trauma to a minimum. She has also suffered depressive problems and was attacked as a teenager. (Not an easy life, all in all :( )

    She did not eat or sleep that night - couldn't stop shaking and replaying it in her mind. I took an emergency day off work the next day to be with her, and the reaction continued despite 'medication' we had available. That night she slept through exhaustion, but was awake again 4am the next day - I took another day off work and took her to doctors.

    All this while she is thinking that the gym she loves going to (as a safe place) thinks she is a thief and she has been humilliated in front of them. Contact from various staff and call-mates tried to convince her that NOBODY thought it was her, but 'logic' does not come into play when 'feelings' are as high as they are. (Those with long-term female partners will understand!)

    This morning we heard that the gym owner set his own sting, and caught the thief red-handed. That news alone has lifted her spirits. However that doesn't undo any of the damage she has felt at the hands of the police.

    I know enforcing the law isn't easy, and I know I'm not up to doing the job. It's not so much WHAT was done, but THE WAY things are handled that make the difference between letting normal citizens feel they've done their part to help the authorities and having them leave feeling they have been abused.

    The whole thing, from the meeting on the street to getting back to her friend at the cafe (in a terrible state) took about 45minutes by my calculation.

    It seems (from one particular guy's attitude) that sticking within the rules is all that matters (and I'm not sure he did that) - what affect his treatment has on the people he deals with is of no concern and it's up to family and friends to deal with the aftermath.

    I am an easy-going guy. I know I can get a lot more out of people by discussion, negotiation, and reasonable behaviour.... That being said, I am as peeeeed off as I have ever been :mad:

    Any comments by those in the know (or thoughts by the 'girls' in the gang) would be appreciated.
  2. Melanie

    Melanie Bend the rules somewhat.. Supporter

    I thought you had to be offically arrested and given your rights before being searched? Was she "arrested"?
  3. Jang Bong

    Jang Bong Speak softly....big stick

    No! In fact they made a point of saying "You have not been arrested" at the end of it all.

    Her friend from the gym WAS arrested - and her ordeal was worse.

    [BTW - the police operation actually missed the real thief :bang: ]
  4. AuntiePink

    AuntiePink Naughty Member

    That's disgusting! Bad enough that they suspected an innocent person but at the very least there should have been a secure room or someone posted outside the door while the search was occurring.

    My thoughts go to Mrs JB that she recovers from the experience and I'm glad she has a hubby like you to help her do that.
  5. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    i am a law graduate and currently on the legal practice course.. i havnt done criminal law for about 3 years now but from what i can remember... police are allowed to do stop and searches if they have reasonable grounds that they believe you are carrying a stolen item, weapons, drugs and so forth. if they stop you on the street they can only hold you for a certain period of time (forgot how long) but after that, they must have a good reason to continue otherwise it will be false imprisonment.

    as you said above the police showed your wife their ID which they must do and they must also tell her their name, station and reason for the search.. in addition they need to tell her that she is entitled to a copy of the search record. if you havnt done so yet, ask your wife to get a copy of the search record. you can make a complaint if they havnt recorded the search.

    in regards to the strip search the search must be carried out by the same sex and with another person present. i dont think they are allowed to strip you completely naked, i think they have to, they should strip the top half and the bottom half seperatly so at all times half your body is covered. if the police touched your wife you may have a cause of action for assult but if they didnt touch her she might have a cause of action under the human rights act, especially since it was not a private room (the glass thingy) and people keep tryin to come in. ermm i suggest you seek legal advise into this matter if you wish to take this further.

    if you want to look into this more yourself... take a look at the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (aka PACE). its the code and procedures the police must follow.

    but sayin all this.. you should seek expert legal help. i will not be liable for anything mentioned in this thread :D
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2006
  6. bcullen

    bcullen They are all perfect.

    I'm sorry to hear that. Many years back my wife had a problem with an overzealous store security guard that had me seeing red. Give em hell JB.
  7. TheCount

    TheCount Happiness is a mindset

    I'm fairly sure it goes something like this:

    You may only be arrested/taken in under reasonable suspicion or in relation to reasonable suspicion. So they have to declare first why you are being taken places, ie. we want to check you out in relation to X.
    As leonx said.

    The strip search however I think is unnecessary, they aren't allowed to d it without a damned good reason so that would be a reasonable ground on which to complain. Sell your story to a paper, usually goes down well, heh. They aren't allowed to strip you below undergarments without (if I remember) a certified doctor being present... don't quote me on this but I know in the forces if you are going to get stripped to the skin a doctor has to be there and they must have a VERY good reason for that too.

    Being done in front of a glass door was exceptionally unappapropriate, the fact that other offices were howling and catcalling outside (you know it was happening) sums it up.

    This happened in the U.S.A. a while ago, police abused their authority in the exact same way.

    Way forward I think is to file a formal complaint, get legal aid and claim for Psychological Trauma, Abuse of Police Powers and you could probably go for Corruption too... I mean getting her to strip knowing that every tom dick and harry can watch is just a little suspect.
    If in doubt sell your story to a valid newspaper, tends to get wheels moving
  8. Yossarian

    Yossarian Valued Member

    Im sorry to hear what happened to your wife JB. Ive had similar experiences myself, ive been picked up and searched without being arrested twice(I had long hair). The police said they were serching me for drugs, I got the same wierd comments about things on my person, "why do you have a rolled up bus ticket?", "why do you have a hole in your pocket?","why havent you payed your gas bill?" lol i had a red gas bill in my pocket.

    It is a horrible feeling, like youve been violated. The first time it happened I was sixteen and my mother complained to the head of our areas police. He came round to our house and appologised and told me the officer who picked me up would be reprimanded. I complained about the second time but nothing happened.

    I think the stop and search laws were changed a few years back(I could be wrong) allowing the police to search anyone they want for whatever reason. Im pretty sure they need a damn good reason to strip search someone though.

    I hope your wifes ok.
  9. Alansmurf

    Alansmurf Aspire to Inspire before you Expire Supporter

  10. Sgt_Major

    Sgt_Major Ex Global Mod Supporter

    Thats terrible what happened mate, all I can say is seek advise from your solicitor with the full details, its hard to put it in writing as you say.
  11. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    yes i think you should do this.. however if you want to claim for distress you should ask your wife to seek medical help, and tell her to tell them that she had been distressed and it has been affecting her life (of course it has to be true :) ). if you are serious about bringing a claim, it is always good to have expert medical evidence in your support. dont rely on things said in this thread.. go get some legal aid and advice.
  12. Alansmurf

    Alansmurf Aspire to Inspire before you Expire Supporter

    hey all you litigation heroes....slow down ...

    The man Jang Bong asked for comments and advice...

    Not an all out assault in the civil courts with a view to compensation..

    Jang please read the PACE stop and search thread I linked in for you.

    The law is specific as to your rights and entitlements and the majority of police officers comply with these rules set out in statutes...

    I think once you read the law you will be able to decide what you want to redress the situation....

  13. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    yes but if you read the PACE they are clearly in violation of their procedures..

    1. it wasnt a private room and
    2. they didnt follow the correct procedure to do a strip search.

    im not saying persue litigation... at least make a formal complaint
  14. Alansmurf

    Alansmurf Aspire to Inspire before you Expire Supporter

    I am afraid my learned friend that you are giving your perception ...not the facts Jang Bong's wife is the one with the facts ..
  15. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    well as a future solicitor.. that will be my job
  16. Alansmurf

    Alansmurf Aspire to Inspire before you Expire Supporter

    well then I know you would want all the facts before coming to a conclusion then .............. ;)

    Back to the main issue ...PACE does set out rules and procedures ...and Police forces have their own investigative units to check on anyy possible discretions ....

    Let us know how it goes Jang..

  17. M Lambert

    M Lambert Fitness Consultant

    Its bad that the search was done in a room with a glass panel door, and it was probably a mistake that the officers werent uniformed (although this may have caused more embarassment at the gym).

    From a talk from the Police, they are allowed to search you on the street, and an officer of the same sex is allowed to strip search you in the station with good reason. Now this is where I break the mould... a possibility of being a thief is a damn good reason to be searched. I know you will know she wasnt, and is no doubt a perfectly honest and innocent person... but the police don't know that. The police see suspects, and they have to act on that, its how the criminals get caught. So they took 45 minutes of your wifes time, and handled some aspects of it wrong, but the police force is always getting flak, and always needs to get results. Keeping the country in order is a tough job for anyone.

    Also they wouldnt of known your wife has possible M.S. They have a job to do and they did it, its sad that it caused the reaction in your wife it did and no doubt they'd have prefferred it didnt, and its unfortunate they didnt catch the real thief themselves. But if it wasnt for police operations chances are you'd have had your stuff nicked a few hundred times by now and maybe be injured by other people too.

    Im not taking sides, I just think theyre doing a job.
  18. leon_x

    leon_x Dai Low

    yea true... i was giving my opinion from the facts given.. buts from the facts given i think they are in breach of PACE.

    but yea Jang... dont listen to crackheads like me on the net.. get expert legal help and goodluck whatever u decide to do.
  19. Keikai

    Keikai Banned Banned

    to be honest here have you been truthful to us all here? , for a start a policeman can only question you in the street, if they feel they need to ask you more they can ask you to go to the station, at this point she still had the chance to phone whoever she wanted for advice, if she went to the station ok no problem, if she was asked to do a strip search it would have been in a separate room away from men and she would have been read her rights with the charges against her. Also if it was my wife i would have been down there like a shot with a lawyer not talking to a bunch of martial artists about personal stuff, are you telling the truth?
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2006
  20. Jang Bong

    Jang Bong Speak softly....big stick

    My thanks to you all for your input. :) Alansmurf and leon_x have things right on target, and although I'd picked up the same 'failings in procedure' from other internet searches (before I put this thread up ;)) I hadn't seen that particular link. Cheers! :) {Keep the banter friendly guys - you're BOTH right in your way :Angel: }

    Keikai - every word is the truth as I was able to get it from my wife. She's a reliable witness, but in a bad state - I take all that into account with regard to what I share with others or what I accuse police of face-to-face. Age, a little bit of wisdom, and a level head go some way in this world.

    BTW - you don't need to be arrested to be strip-searched, but there should be 2 members of your own gender in the room. (That's one point of procedure that failed)

    The options we take will depend on what we find out through any means. The reason I approached this 'bunch of martial artists' is not so much for the wide range of professionals (lawyers, law enforcers, etc) but the massive wealth of real-life experience and true stories they may share with me. I got that through Yossarian, and his description of the impact this can have is perfect. I feel I have a number of 'internet friends' here, and an awful lot of them have responded - our thanks to all :love:

    M Lambert - I treat your comments with the same respect as everyone elses. Since the officers neither gave my wife a report, or identified themselves by name, number, or station (More points of procedure that failed), I was at the station the next day to at least identify who they were.

    I got to speak to one of them (who gave me names and numbers, but didn't mention the 'report'), and I told him I understood that upholding the law was difficult and they dealt with a lot of the worst in our society. I also told him that HOW you do things is often far more important than WHAT you do.

    I've found in life that I get more information or co-operation by treating people politely and with dignity - even if they don't deserve it. In other words there is no harm treating villians like decent members of the public (while questioning or searching them) but there is a lot of harm in treating innocent people as criminals. If 9 out of 10 people would be unaffected by the treatment he gives out, then just remember that for 1 out of 10 it is horrific.

    The same day I was there on behalf of my wife, her friend's mother also got to see the guy. From what she tells me - if I played 'good cop', then she deffinitely took the other roll :woo: :D All she originally wanted for her daughter was an appology, and she stuck to her guns and saw an Inspector - her daughter is getting that appology tomorrow morning, but as she's found how incorrectly they did things she also wants to launch a 'complaint' to try and prevent this happening to anyone else.

    My wife and I will be joining her friend tomorrow to support her, and give ME a chance to bring to the Inspector's attention the things I've learned.

    Once again - our thanks for your assistance :)

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