The rise and fall of suspicionless searches

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This paper examines the extraordinary rise and fall of police powers to stop-and-search without suspicion in public places in England and Wales. Suspicionless searches – authorised by s.60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and s.44 Terrorism Act 2000 – rose to a peak of 360,000 in 2009 and then declined radically to fewer than 1,000 in 2016. The paper seeks to explain changes in the use of suspicionless search powers drawing on a theory of the relationship between law and policing by examining the police ‘working environment’ comprised of three structures: law, work and politics. The paper concludes with a consideration of recent reforms of stop-and-search powers and the implications for the future of suspicionless searches.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-88
JournalKing's Law Journal
Issue number1
Early online date16 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • law
  • police powers
  • policing
  • suspicion
  • stop-and-search


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