the “disturbing” scale of strip searches of minors by the police

The Children’s Commissioner for England expressed concern on Monday August 8 at the extent of the London police’s use of strip searches of minors. Six hundred and fifty cases have been reported in two years, mostly suffered by black adolescents. After the turmoil created by the full search inflicted in 2020 on a 15-year-old black teenager, the « Children’s Commissioner » Rachel de Souza, responsible for defending children’s rights, asked Scotland Yard for the statistics on this subject.

Between 2018 and 2020, around 650 young people between the ages of 10 and 17 were subjected to this type of strip search, according to figures made public on Monday. Fifty-eight percent of them were described by police as black, and more than 95% were boys. In 23% of cases, the search took place without the presence of a third adult, as required by law – except in an emergency.

No prosecution in half of the cases

More than half of these searches resulted in no prosecution, leading the Children’s Commissioner to believe that they may not be either. “justified or necessary in all cases”. Rachel de Souza said to herself « deeply shocked » by the number of children submitted“every year to this intrusive and traumatic practice”and « deeply concerned »by the ethnic disparity brought to light.

In response, London police said they « progressed rapidly in his work » so that “Children who are subject to these intrusive practices are treated appropriately and respectfully” and she highlighted changes that have already been undertaken.

“Racist” scandal in 2020

The question arose in the United Kingdom after the search inflicted in 2020 on a black teenager in the infirmary of her school. It had been carried out by two policewomen, without the presence of a third adult and while the girl was having her period. Wrongly suspected of having concealed cannabis, the young girl had been deeply traumatized by this affair, at the origin of several demonstrations.

The ups and downs of British police

A Child Protective Services report concluded in March that such a search would not have » never « should have taken place and that the « racism (whether deliberate or not) was likely a factor influencing the decision » to lead it.

Attached to the notion of consensus with the population, the London police have been shaken by a succession of resounding scandals, which have led to a crisis of confidence and the resignation of its chief Cressida Dick, replaced by the former chief of police British counter-terrorist Marc Rowley.


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