Seven cases of strip searches of children transferred to the police

The Metropolitan Police said seven more complaints related to strip searches of children have been forwarded to supervising police.

The voluntary appeals relate to selected incidents between December 2019 and March 2022 in which children aged 14 to 17 years were subjected to strip searches by officers in custody or were subjected to “more intimate searches outside of custody”, according to law enforcement data.

The Independent Conduct Police Department (IOPC) returned two complaints to law enforcement for investigation. The remaining five are still under review by the IOPC.

In response, we’ve already made a number of changes to how we work to ensure that staff consider the child first and adopt a safer approach.Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lawrence Taylor

This happened after three cases were referred to the supervisory authority. Two teenage girls, known as Child Q and Olivia, were strip-searched by police during their period.

The Met confirmed last month that a third case involving a child known only as Child A is under investigation.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lawrence Taylor said: “We understand the trauma and long-term impact of such searches on people, especially youth, and we understand the public concern after several incidents.

“In response, we have already made a number of changes to the way we operate so that officers look at the child first and take a protection approach. We are also reviewing complaints received over the past three years regarding strip searches of children under 18 years of age. This includes searches outside places of detention where private parts of the body are exposed.

“Strip searches in places of detention and searches that expose more intimate parts of the body outside of detention are important for the safety of the person being searched, as well as for protecting the public from drugs and weapons. But they must, of course, be carried out adequately and in accordance with our policy.

“We have already confirmed that three cases have been referred to the Independent Directorate of Police Conduct (IOPC) for important independent oversight of how the police conducted these searches – these cases are known as Child Q, Child A and Olivia. ‘. We have now made seven more voluntary referrals to the IOPC.”


Demonstration outside Stoke Newington police station in London against the treatment of the Q child (Stefan Russo/PA)

In 2020, female Metropolitan Police officers strip-frisked Child Kew after she was wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis at her east London school.

The search took place without the presence of another adult and with the knowledge that she was menstruating, according to the security report.

A City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP) review of local child protection practices concluded that strip searches should never have been carried out was unjustified and racism “probably was a contributing factor”.

A second anonymous teenager, alias Olivia by the BBC, was arrested after she was accused of robbery and was found in possession of a sharpened stick and a small blade, believed to be intended for self-harm, while in custody, her mother said. .

This prompted six police officers to strip the 15-year-old autistic girl in front of her male colleagues, leaving her traumatized, with the BBC reporting that she later attempted suicide.

The Met said the updates that have been made since the release of the Child Q report include briefing officers on the “further search” policy, providing advice on working with schools, and changing the policy for people under the age of 18.

Officers must now also obtain permission from the inspector and speak with the warden before conducting a search. An adult must also be present.