How can this Guide help me?

This Guide will give you a general idea of what the law says that police can, cannot, or might be able to do when interacting with people. The Guide is intended to help you manage these interactions, and it shows how some people fight for their own rights, the rights of others, and for equality.

This is important because being stopped by the police is stressful and can sometimes go badly. Although police officers have a duty to obey the law and to respect your rights, you cannot assume that this will always happen: while it is good to know your rights, it is also good to use your best judgment to keep yourself safe.

Reading through the whole Guide may be helpful.

It can answer questions you have.
It may inform you about things you were not aware of.
It will offer new ideas of what you can do if you have a concern about how you were treated.

The Guide includes general information about the law – but does not give you legal advice, which means that it cannot advise you what to do in specific situations you might face.

If you do want legal advice, this Guide includes suggestions on where you can try to find legal advice. And if you hope to take legal action, it is recommended that you consult with a lawyer first.

The Guide includes information about rights and police powers in general, and about the law, which includes statutes, regulations, policies, rules, and court decisions or judgments that interpret the law. Laws do not address every specific situation, so there may be room for interpretation. Courts sometimes give different answers about different situations. Also, sometimes police interpret the law one way, while rights advocates interpret it a different way. And there are times when police officers do not uphold their responsibilities under the law.

Also, the law changes often: new court decisions come out; laws, regulations, and policies change from time to time.

This Guide was created in November 2021, and launched on December 13th 2021.

Your rights are only one part of the story.

To protect yourself and reduce risk it is usually a good idea to use your own good judgment, remain calm, be polite, and wait until after you are no longer near the police to take action about any concerns you have.