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The purpose of this Policy is to enable staff to care for patients in a safe environment, minimising the risk of harm to patients’ staff and others.

The Trust also aims to minimise risk of criminal behaviour by patients which may have a detrimental effect on their mental health

The Mental Health Act (2007), (CoP, 2015) does not provide specific authorisation to search patients or their belongings.

It is important that staff appreciate that guidance is included in the Code of Practice (2015) that in the absence of lawful justification the personal search of patients or their property without consent would constitute a trespass to the person. Information relating to this should be provided to patients and carers.

Staff must always be aware that searches should occur to safeguard patients and others and that it should only occur where there is clinical justification.

It is appropriate for persons to enter hospital for treatment to be requested to participate in a property search on admission and to be requested to not enter hospital with items which could endanger themselves or others. This should form part of pre admission information as well as information given on admission.

It is also appropriate to request patients, who following a period of absence from the ward, and who following a risk assessment are assessed as having a history of:

  • Hiding or carrying an offensive weapon
  • Expressing views that they may injure themselves or others
  • Or where there is information that a patient may have an offensive weapon or other items with which they could harm themselves or others.
  • Or who are acting in a threatening manner
  • Or there is reasonable belief that they may be in possession of items which are dangerous (i.e. drugs or alcohol)


Link to the full Policy:

Search Policy

Link to the Equalities Impact Analysis:

Search Policy - EIA