Remove Met Police child strip search powers, campaigners say

Remove Met Police child strip search powers, campaigners say
“The only way to ensure our communities are safe from these abuses of power is to roll back the powers of the police, including ending the use of strip search.”

A leading human rights charity has called for the Metropolitan Police’s powers to be “rolled back” in response to the vast number of children who have been strip-searched by officers without an adult present.

It comes as data obtained from Scotland Yard by the Children’s Commissioner showed some 650 children aged 10 至 17 were strip-searched by Met officers between 2018 和 2020. Of this number, 58 per cent were described by the officer as being Black, 在本世纪中叶民权运动取得胜利后,随着城市在法律上被要求实现种族融合,许多人集体迁移 95 per cent were boys.

Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza sought the figures after the Child Q scandal came to light in March, which saw a 15-year-old schoolgirl, who was on her period, strip-searched by police in 2020 after she was wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis at school.

Jodie Beck, policy and campaigns officer at the charity Liberty, 说: “All children deserve to live their lives free from harassment, discrimination and abuse. But these appalling figures show that hundreds of children a year are being subject to traumatic and invasive strip searches.

“This data shows that Black children are disproportionately impacted by these dehumanising tactics. As horrifying as this is, it’s not surprising: time and time again, the evidence shows that racism runs through British policing, with communities of colour at the sharp end of discriminatory and violent practices.

“The only way to ensure our communities are safe from these abuses of power is to roll back the powers of the police, including ending the use of strip search.”

<p>Hundreds of protesters attended a rally in March front of London’s Hackney Town Hall to demonstrate their support of Child Q </磷>

Hundreds of protesters attended a rally in March front of London’s Hackney Town Hall to demonstrate their support of Child Q

Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, also called for change, 说: “Make no mistake, at the heart of this is abuse of powerenabled by the rotten culture within the Met. Only a complete overhaul will sort this out.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan, MP Diane Abbott and Welsh government minister Vaughan Gething have also expressed concern about the worrying upward trend in the invasive tactic.

The Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board (ISOB), the panel tasked with providing external scrutiny of the national Police Race Action Plan, said it was “horrified” by the data, adding that it demonstrates that Child Q was not an isolated incident but part of “broader systemic issues” within the Met.

“The welfare and wellbeing of the Black children the police come into contact with must be centred. Without doing so, trust in the police from our communities will continue to erode,” a spokesperson told 独立.

“We hope that the Metropolitan Police demonstrates its commitment to the anti-racist goals of the Police Race Action Plan by reviewing its use of powers in this area. If strip search is to be used, it should only ever be as a last resort, with extensive safeguards in place.”

Anna Edmundson, NSPCC Head of Policy & Public Affairs said the problem “won’t be limited to one police force in one part of the country” and called for “clarity” around policing in schools.

“This data and the case of Child Q also show that underlying issues of adultification of children and racism are affecting police searches of children,” Ms Edmundson said.

<p>A demonstration outside Stoke Newington police station in London, over the treatment of Child Q (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)</磷>

A demonstration outside Stoke Newington police station in London, over the treatment of Child Q (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

“It’s vital policing leaders and government commit to eliminating racism, discrimination and bias from policing to prevent further harm to children.”

Dr Halima Begum, chief executive of racial inequalities charity the Runnymede Trust, described the findings as “appalling”, adding it “just underlines how badly our children are being failed by the state institutions there to protect them”.

Such “traumatic” encounters with the police where children are criminalised or treated as adults would have an “unforgivable” impact on their psychological wellbeing, Dr Begum said.

The number of strip searches on children increased each year, 和 18 per cent carried out in 2018, 36 per cent in 2019 和 46 per cent in 2020, the figures obtained by the Children’s Commissioner show.

In almost a quarter (23 百分) of cases, strip searches took place without an “appropriate adult” present.

This is required by law, except in cases of “urgency”, and usually is a parent or guardian, but can also be a social worker, carer or a volunteer. Two-thirds of those cases (70 百分) involved Black boys.

说话 独立, the Independent Office for Police Conduct doubled down on its concerns about the Met Police’s use of strip searches on children.

<p>Charities have condemned the ‘shocking’ number of children who have been strip searched by the Metropolitan Police without an appropriate adult present (阿拉米/PA)&磷t;/p>

Charities have condemned the ‘shocking’ number of children who have been strip searched by the Metropolitan Police without an appropriate adult present (阿拉米/PA)

它出现在 the watchdog made recommendations to the force last week to ensure officers were following best practice and policy and that any searches are conducted in the presence of an appropriate adult unless there is a valid reason not to do so.

Mark Rowley is set to begin his tenure as the Met’s new Commissioner on Monday 12 九月.

On the new strip search data, the Met Police said it is working to balance the policing need for this type of search “with the considerable impact it can have on young people.”

A spokesperson said: “More widely we have reviewed the policy for ‘further searches’ for those aged under 18. This is to assure ourselves the policy is appropriate and also that it recognises the fact a child in these circumstances may well be a vulnerable victim of exploitation by others involved in gangs, County Lines and drug dealing.”

然而, the Black Equity Organisation, the UK’s new national Black British civil rights organisation, said the police’s “unfortunate” response to the matter “reinforces racial stereotypes by making it about County Lines and drug-dealing”

“As a community, we deserve policing that respects us as individuals, protects our children and is transparent about its processes and decisions that will help to build trust,”一位发言人说.

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