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Section 60 – ‘without suspicion searches’

Sometimes ordinary stop and search powers aren't enough to keep communities safe as people can only be stopped and searched if the officer has reasonable grounds. A Section 60 allows police officers to stop and search people even if they don't have suspicions about them. 

If an officer of at least the rank of Inspector believes that:

  • incidents involving serious violence MAY take place in a specified area,
  • or that people WILL be carrying dangerous instruments or offensive weapons,
  • or an incident involving serious violence has taken place in the specified area, and a dangerous instrument or offensive weapon used in the incident is being carried by a person in the area.

AND the authorising officer, believes that is in necessary, they may authorise a section 60 to be put in place.

What is a Section 60?

A Section 60 is a power given by an Inspector or above which allows police officers to stop and search anyone in a specific area without needing to have reasonable grounds.

It is granted under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Why are Section 60s put in place?

A Section 60 is put in place if an Inspector or above believes that people will be:

  • carrying weapons or
  • causing serious violence or
  • incidents involving serious violence MAY take place.

in a particular area.

It's there to keep people safe. When a Section 60 is in place anyone can be stopped and searched by the police. 

What limitations are placed around a Section 60?


A Section 60 can be put in place for up to 24 hours and may then be extended after this for up to another 24 hours.


When a Section 60 is agreed it is limited to a specific area or group of streets.

What does a Section 60 mean?

It means that police officers can search anyone within a specific area and time frame. The police officer doesn’t need to have reasonable grounds to stop and search you, but they must explain the reasons you are being stopped, including that there is a Section 60 in place.

How can I find out if a Section 60 has worked?

When a Section 60 is in place we will keep the community informed of its purpose and outcomes by providing information on the police website and on local social media, for example local Facebook pages.

Lancashire Polices Response to the CJA Section 60 Super Complaint

In May 2021, the Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA) submitted a super-complaint. Following an investigation, a recent report published in December 2023 by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the College of Policing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that police forces should improve how they explain and evaluate their use of section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which relate to stop search powers.

The super-complaint system is designed to examine problems of local, regional or national significance that may not be addressed by existing complaints systems. The super-complaint, entitled ‘More harm than good’, raises the CJA’s concerns about “harms caused by ‘suspicion-less’ stop and searches and inadequate scrutiny of stop and search powers”.  This was a National complaint rather than aimed at practices within Lancashire Constabulary.

The ‘suspicion-less’ stop and searches to which the CJA refers are those the police carry out using their powers under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (which we subsequently refer to in this report as ‘section 60’). A section 60 authorisation gives the police powers to stop and search people and vehicles, without suspicion, for “offensive weapons or dangerous instruments” for incidents involving serious violence. These powers only apply to a designated locality in a police force area for a set period.

Lancashire Police are committed to using all tactics available in order to target violence and prevent offences wherever possible.  Lancashire Constabulary will wherever it is necessary and proportionate utilise section 60 search powers, whilst being acutely aware of its impact within our communities and the perception over the legitimacy of police actions.  Whilst this power is not routinely used in Lancashire we will ensure, as we do presently, that it is subject to the required scrutiny pre authorisation, during the timeframe authorised for and reviewed post event.  

The report has laid out a number of recommendations that were published for Forces to measure themselves against in both the application and scrutiny of section 60 powers.  We are satisfied that we have already in place a robust internal and community led external scrutiny panels that review any section 60s authorised and processes are in place to ensure safeguarding where appropriate of those been searched.  However this report provides the opportunity for ourselves to review all practices against the recommendations, and wherever necessary amend if required.  Any of the recommendations that are requiring implementation within Lancashire will form part of our work with the community led external scrutiny panels to seek their views and inform them of any changes required to help Lancashire continuously improve and apply best practice to the use of this power.

To read the full report please click here Report on the Criminal Justice Alliance’s super-complaint - Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and independent community scrutiny of stop and search - His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (

How can I help?

A Section 60 is a proactive power used by the police to keep people safe and we urge communities to work with us and report any information. You can contact us directly, or if you prefer to remain anonymous phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or report online here.