Particular situations

The next part of this guide looks at particular organisations and situations:

  • Police
  • Prisons and similar institutions, such as young offender institutions
  • Probation services and criminal justice social work services
  • National security
  • Criminal courts, civil courts and tribunals


Equality law applies to the police just as it does to any other organisation providing services to the public or a section of the public or carrying out public functions.

That means that police forces, police officers and anyone who is working for the police must do what equality law says.

This applies whether you come into contact with the police as a victim of crime, a witness to crime, as someone who is being stopped and searched, or when being questioned or arrested as a suspect, or charged with an offence, or in any other way, for example, as a solicitor representing someone during an interview at a police station.

Decisions by police officers about actions such as:

  • stopping you in the street and searching you (‘stop and search’)
  • handing out a fixed penalty notice
  • arresting you
  • interviewing you as a suspect
  • cautioning you, or
  • charging you

wherever these take place, must not be based on your protected characteristics but on evidence.

You can find out more about your rights under laws other than equality law at:


More information

Last Updated: 26 Jan 2015