Chilling map shows England and Wales areas police most likely to strip search children

Posted: 29th March 2023

Almost 3,000 children in England and Wales have been strip-searched by police in the past four years – a quarter of whom were aged between 10 and 15.

A report by the Children’s Commissioner for England found widespread non-compliance guidelines in place to protect children during strip searches. Yet, the numbers show that over half were conducted without a required third-party adult present with some carried out in public view. The prevalence of the practice was unevenly spread across Britain, but overall, Black children were disproportionately affected, leading to further calls of racism within the police.
In 2020, a 15-year-old black girl from Hackney was strip-searched by two female police officers in school on suspicion of cannabis possession.

A report into the incident by City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership found Child Q was forced to expose intimate body parts without another adult present. No drugs were found.

The Children’s Commissioner for England is a non-departmental public body tasked to “promote and protect the rights of all children”. Having led the office since 2021, Dame Rachel de Souza investigated Child Q’s case last year.

In August, her report concluded that the Met suffered from “systemic problems with transparency, scrutiny and non-compliance with guidelines” when it came to using their stop and search powers on children.

Alongside a damning indictment of the capital’s police force – still reeling this week from The Baroness Casey Review that found evidence of “institutional racism, sexism and homophobia” – the Children’s Commissioner was also prompted to examine the issue nationwide.

Dame de Souza said her findings had “kept her awake at night”, describing them as “deeply concerning” upon their release on Monday.

Under stop-and-search powers, officers are allowed to confront individuals so long as they have “reasonable grounds” to suspect they are carrying drugs, a weapon or stolen goods. When carried out on children, however, special guidelines must be followed.

With 39 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales responding to the request for data, a total of 2,847 strip searches of young people aged between eight and 17 were carried out between mid-2018 and 2022.

Law enforcement can make physical contact with a child and force them to remove their clothing, but an “Appropriate Adult” must be present except in situations of “urgency”. The research found this was not the case in over half (52 percent) of cases.

Source: Child strip searches by police in England and Wales — MAPPED | UK | News |

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