Reasonable Suspicion – Search by Police Officer

Reasonable Suspicion – Search by Police Officer.
In order to search a person or vehicle a Police Officer must have reasonable suspicion. Police may search for stolen property offensive weapon, prohibited articles, or controlled drugs. There are some more obscure pieces of law that allow the police to search for other items such as articles used for hunting.
Reasonable suspicion does not require certainty that an unlawful item is being carried. Reasonable suspicion does not mean that the police officer has to be satisfied of this beyond reasonable doubt. Reasonable suspicion must be founded on a fact related to that individual and would later stand up to scrutiny. A police officer’s hunch or instinct is not reasonable suspicion.
The police officer must have formed a genuine suspicion in his own mind that he will find the object that he is allowed to search for. The suspicion that the object will be found must reasonable. This means that there must be an objective basis for that suspicion. This means that a reasonable person would be entitled to reach the same conclusion based on the same facts.
External factors may enhance the reasonable suspicion, such as the time of day or night, and the location of the person.
Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on a person’s ethnicity, or membership of a particular group.
The reasonable suspicion is the police officer’s state of mind, not the subject’s. Challenging the police officer’s state of mind is unlikely to change it, unless supported by some fact or another. For instance, if a police officer suspects that you are carrying a weapon by the shape of the carrier bag that you are holding, and wishes to exercise his power of search under section 1 of PACE, an explanation from you may change his mind. If for instance you are walking home from cricket practice, sight of the cricket bat in your bag may sufficiently challenge his state of mind to make the search unnecessary or even unlawful.
The suspicion may not exist before the start of the encounter. A police officer may speak with the subject and become suspicious during the encounter. For instance the subject may be nervous and apparently lie about the reasons for his presence. The person may simply display signs of intoxication caused by drugs. However there is no power for a police officer to stop and detain to discover suspicion.
You do not have to give your name and address when searched by a police officer. However if you are carrying something illegal then a police officer does have a power to demand your name and address and if you don’t provide it you may be arrested.
If all conditions are met, i.e. the reasonable suspicion is lawful and the police officer provides the correct information, (his name, station, grounds and object of search) then you may be searched and detained for that purpose. The police officer may use force. Obstructing or otherwise not permitting a lawful search could amount to “obstructing a police officer” for which you may be arrested.