Children between the ages of 10 and 12 have been subjected to full strip searches by the Metropolitan Police, according to figures seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Nearly 600 under-18s were subjected to strip searches where private parts are exposed by officers between 2018 and 2021.
The figures were obtained amid controversy over the case of Child Q, a 15-year-old black schoolgirl who was removed from an exam when she was wrongly suspected of having cannabis and strip searched during menstruation by two police officers, without proper authorization. adult present.
Caroline Russell, a member of the London Assembly Green party who obtained the data from the force, said she was troubled by the number of children strip-searched by police, suggesting they “should engage with youth workers and not with the police”.
Read more: Met deputy chief says Child Q strip search ‘should never have happened’
The figures reveal that four children in the age range between 10 and 12 have been subjected to searches where private parts are exposed in the last four years. Another 135 youths aged 13 to 15 and 452 aged 16 or 17 were also strip searched by police during the same period between 2018 and the end of 2021.
The strip searches were all carried out under stop and search powers – where the child may not have been arrested.
Ms Russell said: ‘Police have enormous power to stop, search and strip search Londoners.
“It may be necessary in certain circumstances, but Londoners and those who police us need an urgent conversation about how these powers are used in relation to the strip search of children.”
Read more: Sadiq Khan says Child Q officers should be investigated for gross misconduct
The Met said it followed national guidelines and the College of Policing’s codes of practice for all types of searches.
It is reviewing its under-18 strip search policy in light of the Child Q case and introducing a pilot scheme in Hackney and Tower Hamlets where an inspector will have to give approval before a strip search is taken place.
Anyone under the age of 18 who is searched must be accompanied by an adult.
When carried out in custody, strip searches are carried out in a cell without CCTV and the inmate is not required to remove all of their clothing at once, revealing only one section at a time.
The Child Q case sparked an uproar last month when a backup report revealed his ordeal in December 2020.
Two female police officers have been removed from frontline duties while the Independent Office for Police Conduct finalizes a report into the incident. An investigation found racism was likely to have been an “influencing factor” in the research. Figures show that last year police carried out 4,286 strip searches. Blacks accounted for a third.
To conduct a more thorough search, an officer must reasonably suspect that the person is using clothing to conceal an illegal item. Scotland Yard said: “We know the lasting impact any search can have and we must give full consideration to the dignity and well-being of the person being searched.”
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This notice was published: 2022-04-25 09:42:15