Can a male officer search a woman?

There is no law that prohibits male officers to search women during a stop and search where just the outer clothing e.g. coat, jacket, gloves and shoes, are being removed. It is however good practice for an officer of the same sex to be called to conduct the search and many police forces have a policy saying so. At the very least, a male officer should use the back of his hand when searching a woman as this is less intrusive (this should also be used to search sensitive parts of the body for any gender).

If you are being searched by an officer whose gender makes you uncomfortable, ask them to call for someone more appropriate. If you are uncomfortable with where the search is taking place, ask for more privacy. If they fail to provide you with either ask them to mention this on the receipt. Stop and search is not supposed to be a humiliating experience.

For more thorough searches, where inner clothing such as a jumper or t-shirt is removed, the police code of practice (Code A of PACE) states;

“Any search involving the removal of more than an outer coat, jacket, gloves, headgear or footwear, or any other item concealing identity, may only be made by an officer of the same sex as the person searched and may not be made in the presence of anyone of the opposite sex unless the person being searched specifically requests it.”

Removal of any religious items, such as a headscarf, must be treated in the same way.

If you have been searched if a way that does not reflect the above then let us know and we will see if there are grounds for complaint or legal action. 

gender discrimination