London: Strip-searching of children by police in the United Kingdom (UK) is “deeply concerning”, says a new report.
The report published by Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza said a total of 2,847 children were strip-searched in England and Wales from 2018 to mid-2022, by police using their ‘stop and search’ powers, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to de Souza’s report, children as young as eight are being strip-searched by the police in inappropriate places, including the back of police vans, schools and fast-food outlets.
Black children in England and Wales were up to six times more likely to be strip-searched, while white children were around half as likely to be searched, said the report.
Moreover, the report found that police did not follow the rules in more than half of strip-searches conducted, amounting to “widespread non-compliance”. In half of all searches, nothing was found.
One in 100 strip-searches of children took place in public view, while 6 per cent were conducted in the presence of an officer of a different gender from the child.
In 52 per cent of cases, appropriate adults were not present.
A total of 95 per cent of those strip-searched were boys, while 5 perc ent of searches were carried out on girls.
De Souza said she had conducted her first investigation into strip-searching of children in the wake of the case of Child Q, which took place in Hackney in 2022.
Child Q, a 15-year-old schoolgirl in London, was wrongly suspected by police of carrying cannabis.
She was pulled out of class and strip-searched while she was menstruating, without teachers being present at the search by two female officers.
De Souza also expressed serious concerns over the poor quality of record-keeping, which she said makes transparency and scrutiny very difficult.
Despite changes to local policy, the national rules under which Child Q was searched have not yet been addressed, De Souza said.