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Can a male police officer search a woman?

Updated: Jul 5, 2022


Yes. 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) is being removed.


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.


Although there is no law that prohibits a male officer from searching a woman, 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). 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 any one 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.

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