Police / Stop and search

What are Serious Violence Reduction Orders?

What are SVROs? What if I’m stopped and searched? What are my rights?

Disclaimer: this article is for general information. It’s not intended to be used as legal advice. For information on how to get legal advice, please see our page here.

This page provides information on Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs). They were introduced under the new Policing Act, which is officially called the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. It made many changes to the criminal justice system. We have a page on our website which covers how the new Policing Act affects your right to protest.

Section 165 of the Policing Act deals with SVROs. The Government has released draft guidance on SVROs.

Note: SVROs are to be piloted in the police forces of Thames Valley, West Midlands, Merseyside and Sussex. After this, a decision will be made on rolling out SVROs across England and Wales. Further information on these pilots can be found in Annex G of PACE Code A. The information below explains the general rules on how SVROs are to work.

What are SVROs?

SVROs are a civil order which a court can make against someone who

  • is over the age of 18, and
  • has been convicted of an offence involving a bladed article or an offensive weapon. A bladed article is an object with a blade or that is sharply pointed.

When can an SVRO be made?

Courts can issue you with an SVRO if you’ve have been convicted of an offence and the court is satisfied that:

1. More likely than not,  you used bladed article or offensive weapon, or you were carrying one when the crime was committed; or

2. During the crime:

  • someone else committed the crime and was using or carrying a bladed article or offensive weapon, and
  • you knew or ought to have known this was the case, and

3.  The court has to make an order to protect the people from harm involving a bladed article or offensive weapon.

Other key facts about SVROs

  • SVROs can last from 6 months to 2 years
  • They can be put on people who are already in prison. In this case, the SVRO can take effect when the person is released from prison.
  • You have the right to appeal. If you want to do this, it’s best to get legal advice. See our page here for more advice on how to get legal help.

What are the rules on SVROs and stop and search?

Stop and search” are the powers the law gives the police to stop people in order to search them.

What can the police do?

If you have an SVRO, the police can stop and search you to find out if you’re carrying a bladed article. If you are in a public place, the police don’t need reasonable grounds to suspect you’re carrying it.

They might also be able to detain you to carry out the search. Detaining means that you’re not free to leave until the police say so. See our page for more information on the rights of  disabled people who are detained here.

The police can seize any item that they reasonably suspect to be a bladed article or offensive weapon.

What are the police not allowed to do?

Under this power the police can’t search anyone else with you, unless the police have reasonable grounds to suspect them. They also can’t use this power to search vehicles.

Your rights if you have an SVRO and you’re stopped and searched

The police should check your identity and that you have an SVRO

If an officer is unsure of who you are, then before they search you, they should try to find out your identity and check to see if you have an SVRO before they search you.

They can do this by looking it up on the Police National Computer (PNC). The PNC is a national database of information available to all UK police forces.

If a police officer can’t confirm that you’re under an SVRO, they can’t search you unless

  • they have reasonable suspicion under their usual stop and search powers, or
  • other stop and search powers apply, such as a section 60 authorisation.

If they don’t do this, the search is unlawful. Skip to the bottom of this article for more information on what to do if you think you’ve been searched unlawfully.

When can the police stop and search me if I have an SVRO?

The police must ensure that stop and search is used fairly, responsibly, respectfully and without unlawful discrimination. You can read more police guidance on fairness in stop and search here.

There should always be an objective and rational basis for conducting a stop and search, even where you have an SVRO. For more information on this, please see our page on stop and search.

However, the use of the SVRO stop and search power is discretionary. This means that it’s up to the police officer to use it or not. Police officers can use their judgement when deciding in what circumstances and how many times someone with an SVRO is stopped and searched.

This can mean that if you are subject to a SVRO, you may be stopped and searched more often than people without SVROs.

What do I have to do if I have an SVRO?

Telling the police

SVROs come with notification requirements. This means that if you have an SVRO put on you, you must tell the police within 3 days:

  • your name
  • your address, and
  • any other places where you regularly live or stay.

You will also have to tell the police within 3 days if any of these details change.

What do I have to do if I have an SVRO and I’m stopped and searched?

You might be committing a crime if:

  • you tell the police any information you know isn’t true
  • you tell a police officer that you’re not under an SVRO when you are
  • you obstruct a police officer from searching you.

If you commit a crime while you’re under an SVRO, you could risk up to 2 years in prison, a fine, or both.

What if the police treat me badly?

You can complain to the police if you don’t like how they treated you. This includes if you feel the police discriminated against you.

Please see our pages on police complaints for more information about how to do so.

If you think the police broke the law, you might want to get legal advice. Visit our page here on how to find legal help.

What are my rights on this?

Find out more about your rights and how the Human Rights Act protects them

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