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Children’s Commissioner asks for strip-search data

The Children’s Commissioner has asked all forces in England and Wales to provide figures for strip-searches conducted on children.

Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza has written to all forces requesting information on strip-searches of children.

It has come after the Met said that the force has conducted 650 such searches on 10 to 17 year olds across a two year period.

Dame Rachel had requested the information in the wake of Child Q – the 15 year old who was strip-searched while on her period at school. Four Met officers are being investigated for gross misconduct in relation to the incident - the IOPC has not yet published any outcomes.

Scotland Yard, however, has already apologised and said the incident “should never have happened”.  

The Met figures showed that in 23 per cent of cases, strip-searches had taken place without an “appropriate adult” confirmed to have been present.

Dame Rachel is now seeking further information from between 2018 and July 2022 from other forces “to reassure myself that these issues are not more widespread”.

She said: “I firmly believe that a police power that is as intrusive and traumatic for children as a strip-search must be treated with the utmost care and responsibility. It must also be accompanied by a robust and transparent system of scrutiny to protect and safeguard vulnerable children.”

She has said she will publish analysis of the data she receives early next year.

Dame Rachel is said to be “working constructively” with Sir Mark Rowley.

A Met Police spokesperson said: “Ensuring the safeguarding of every child who is subject to a search is an absolute priority. We got it wrong with Child Q and we are making significant efforts to ensure our approach puts the child at the heart of decision making.

“We have been listening to our communities and partners and have made changes as we balance the policing need for this type of search with the considerable impact it can have on young people.”

Since April, Met officers have undergone additional training around child strip-searches, and a BCU inspector now has to give permission for a strip search to be carried out.

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