Children as young as eight strip-searched by police, report into 'deeply concerning' practices finds

26 March 2023, 19:21 | Updated: 27 March 2023, 08:55

'It's worrying': Children's Commissioner says police are strip searching kids in the street

By Adam Solomons

More than half of child strip-searches by police took place without an adult present, a 'disturbing' new report on the controversial practice has found.

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Black children were also more than six times likelier to be strip-searched than white youngsters, Children's Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza found.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC the Commissioner said her report shows police have strip-searched children in inappropriate locations such as outside fast-food outlets and at the entrances to theme parks.

Almost 3,000 children including those as young as eight were strip-searched in England and Wales from 2018 to mid-2022.

Race equality charity the Runnymede Trust said: "Our children are being failed by the state institutions there to protect them."

Around 52% of searches took place without an adult present - a legal requirement - while 51% led to no further action.

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Young people are searched by Met Police officers (stock image)
Young people are searched by Met Police officers (stock image). Picture: Alamy

Dame Rachel launched the probe after the controversial strip search of 15-year-old Child Q, who was examined by two female police officers while on her period.

Dame Rachel said it was "utterly unacceptable" that black children were six times more likely to be strip-searched than the general population.

She added: "The findings of this report make for disturbing, but sadly not surprising, reading.

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"This data, combined with that which I received from the Metropolitan Police last year, is the clearest indication yet that what happened to Child Q was far from an isolated incident."

Chief Constable Craig Guildford said the NPCC will "carefully consider the findings".

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We take the concerns raised about children's safeguarding extremely seriously.

"The Independent Office for Police Conduct is currently investigating several high-profile incidents of strip-search of children and it is vital that we await their findings."