Stopped by the police. What to do?

How to react if you are stopped by police?  Know your rights!

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Stop and searches by the police are an everyday reality for many people. Although discriminatory police stops are illegal, there are very limited possibilities to defend yourself against racial profiling. If you resist, you risk being arrested and prosecuted. Please keep in mind that almost any behaviour on your part can be used as an excuse for severe actions by the police. Discrimination by the police is difficult to prove in court, and the court usually protects the police. Furthermore, a criminal con­viction can have serious consequences, especially if you do not have a legal residence status.

Nevertheless: You have the right to resist racist stops and instutional racism by police.


Strategic advices

1 Question the officers’ motives: “Why are you stop-ping me?” Tell the police that you perceive their practice as arbitrary and discriminatory.

2 Respond: “I‘m not making a statement!” If you are stopped by the police, you only have to state your name, your current address, your occupation, and your date of birth – that’s it. You don’t have to say anything else, and you don’t have to answer further questions. You have the right to refuse to answer.

3 Ask the police officers: “Tell me your name and badge number, please.” They may refuse to give you a• n answer. Therefore, it is important to make a note of the police officers’ appearance.

4 Engage nearby pedestrians: “Excuse me, could you please observe the police officer’s conduct?” After your interaction with the police, ask other bystanders for their email address or phone number. Ask them to write a witness statement.

5 State your rights: “I do not consent to the search!” The police have the authority to empty your pockets and frisk you for weapons in public. But they can’t strip search in public. Only medical personnel (doctors) are allowed to conduct a body search including mouth, genitals, buttocks etc. If the police confiscate your belongings, ask for a receipt and ask them to “seal off” your belongings in a bag to prevent them from getting more information about you.

6 Take notes: After the identity check, write a report of the event. Write down the place, date and a detailed report, with the names of the police officers, and names and contact details of witnesses.

7 Speak out: Report verbal and physical assaults (such as insults, threats, or physical harm) by the police to advocacy and legal aid groups.


In case you are arrested

Request the reasons for being held in custody.

• If you are arrested, you do not have to make a statement to the police.

• You have the right to consult a lawyer and a translator. Refuse to make any further statements until a lawyer is present. Request that the police contact a lawyer for you immediately.

• You have the right to inform someone you trust by phone as soon as possible.

Do not sign anything that you do not under­stand or that you disagree with.

• If you were injured during your interaction with the police, request to have your injuries documented in the notes of the arrest.

• After your release, take a photograph of visible injuries and get a medical certification.


If you witness a person being stopped and searched (öffnet in neuem Tab)”>> If you witness a person being stopped and searched