A watchdog has discovered that the Metropolitan Police searched 650 youngsters in three years, with six out of ten of them being black males.
The Children’s Commissioner released Scotland Yard statistics revealing that children aged 10 to seventeen were strip-searched between 2018 and 2020.
Contrary to rules, there was no ‘suitable adult’ present in 23% of instances, such as a parent or social worker. In addition, no further action was taken in 53% of all kid strip searches.
According to Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner for England, in a report released today, “we query whether this low percentage of successful searches suggests that this invasive technique is acceptable or essential in all situations.”
According to the data, 95% of strip searches were conducted on boys, with 58% of them being black – 20% were white, 16% Asian, and the rest were classified as ‘other’ or unrecorded.
Earlier this year, a number of examples surfaced in which the Met strip-searched girls who were menstruating at the time, including a 15-year-old known as ‘Child Q.’
‘I am really astonished,’ said Dame Rachel. I am also very troubled by the racial disparities shown in these numbers, especially considering that ethnicity was proven to be such an important component in the Child Q case. I am not convinced that what occurred to Child Q was an isolated incident, but rather feel it may be part of a larger systemic problem with child safety.
‘I am sceptical that the Metropolitan Police regularly considers the welfare and well-being of children.’
Dame Rachel said that she will share her concerns with the police and the Home Office.
When cops think that youngsters are carrying narcotics, they conduct many strip searches. However, Iryna Pona of the Children’s Society said she was ‘horrified’ by the number of children who had to go through the ‘invasive and stressful’ operation.
‘Children are absolutely failed if even fundamental measures are not in place,’ she continued. We often assist adolescents who have been groomed and persuaded into crimes such as cross-county drug selling, only to be regarded as adults who made a deliberate choice rather than victims of exploitation.’
According to a Scotland Yard spokeswoman, the Met is’moving quickly to ensure that youngsters subjected to invasive searches are treated responsibly and respectfully.’
‘We have already made modifications, and we will continue to work hard to balance the police requirement for this sort of search with the significant effect it may have on young people,’ he said.
‘We have reinforced our officers’ and staff’s grasp of the procedure for conducting a “further search,” notably the necessity for an appropriate adult to be present. We have also examined the guideline for “additional searches” for people under the age of 18.
‘We want to make sure that the policy is appropriate and that it recognizes that a kid in these situations may be a susceptible victim of exploitation by individuals engaged in gangs, county borders, and drug trafficking.’