The Use of UK Terrorism Legislation at Ports

Tackling terrorism together

Cheshire Police acknowledges your support and cooperation. Everyone has a role to play in combating terrorism, not just the police.

The threat of terrorism is real and serious. Recent events have shown that a minority of people seek to attack the UK at any time and at any place without warning. Cheshire Police has a key role in countering that threat and in maintaining national security.

Please remain alert and vigilant at all times. If you are suspicious about someone’s behaviour or activities, or you have information that could relate to terrorist activity, please call the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline telephone number given below.

Text phone for people with speech or hearing difficulties 0800 032 4539

If you believe there is an immediate risk always dial 999 or 112

Frequently asked questions regarding Police interventions at ports:

Police officers at ports play a key role in countering the current terrorist threat and have powers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to stop, question, search and if necessary, detain people entering or leaving the UK. This also applies to those travelling within the UK on board a ship or aircraft.

Terrorists need to travel in order to plan, prepare and commit their crimes. The legislation is used by police officers to determine whether a person appears to be (or has been) concerned in terrorism. When it extends beyond a short encounter this process is commonly known as an examination.

Our overriding priority is to keep the public safe by working together with all our communities to defeat terrorism.

Schedule 7 Terrorism Act 2000

Our powers to stop and question come from Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The use of this legislation is regularly and independently reviewed. The legislation is unique and applies only at a port or border area. Some people may find being stopped by the police inconvenient and embarrassing, but we have a duty to protect our communities from terrorism and your patience and understanding helps us to do this.

Who has stopped me?

Police officers from Cheshire Police have stopped you. They work at the port to help protect our borders and to keep the UK safe. These officers do not have to give you their names. They will give you their force identification number if you request it. You may also be stopped under other legislation by staff from the UK Border Agency or other government enforcement agency.

Why have I been stopped?

Unlike most other police powers, the power to stop, question, search and, if necessary, detain persons under Schedule 7 does not require prior authority or any suspicion that the person stopped is involved in terrorism.

Why have you asked for my passport?

This is so that you can be identified. Other forms of documentation that can positively identify you may also be acceptable. You must also give the officer any other documents or information they request.

Can you search me or my luggage?

Yes, you can be searched, together with anything you have with you or belonging to you that is on an aircraft, ship or train, including any vehicle you might be travelling in. The officer can also search anything belonging to you which may have been, or is about to go, on a ship, aircraft, or international train. The officer can seize any property they find (see below).

How long can you keep my property?

Property is normally returned to you straight away, or at the conclusion of the examination. If this is not possible, documents and other belongings found during the search can be held for up to seven days for further examination. Property can be kept for longer where it may be required for use as part of a criminal investigation.

How long can you keep me?

Most examinations take only a short time, however the law allows for up to six hours. You can be detained for longer if you are arrested under other powers available to the officer. If this is the case, it will be explained to you. (During long periods, your personal needs will be considered, such as refreshments.)

What if I don’t want to stay here or comply with any of the requests that you make of me?

A police officer has the power to detain you, using reasonable force if necessary. You commit an offence if you fail to comply with a request made by an officer under this legislation. This could result in a prison sentence, a fine or both.

What is my right to legal advice?

You can request legal advice at your own expense. Your examination will not take place until the arrival of a solicitor and your failure to answer questions may constitute an offence. If you are formally detained under Schedule 7, your rights will be explained to you.

Will a record be kept of my details?

The police are required to keep a record when their interaction with you extends beyond a short encounter. This is for statistical and reference purposes only and does not constitute any kind of criminal record.

Why wasn’t I cautioned/given a notice of search?

Unlike many other police powers, when questioned under Schedule 7, you need not be cautioned. Where searches are made, there is no requirement for a written notice of a search to be provided to you.

Can you take my fingerprints, DNA and photograph?

Yes, in the circumstances set out under Schedule 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Where can I complain about my treatment or find out more information?

Cheshire Police welcomes any comments or concerns you may have about your experience during this process. Contact Cheshire Police on 101.

Additional information may also be found on the following websites: