Strip searches of children: Met police refers eight more cases to police watchdog
Two female Metropolitan Police officers standing roadside in Trafalgar Square opposite Northumberland Avenue on a rather gloomy day.
The Metropolitan Police has made eight more voluntary referrals to the Independent Office for Police Conduct involving strip searches of children.
The referrals come as the police watchdog is investigating four Met Police officers over an alleged inappropriate strip search of a black girl, identified as Child Q, at an east London school more than a year ago.
Three cases, including that of Child Q, have already been referred to the watchdog for independent oversight before the referrals are made in the eight further cases.
The voluntary referrals relate to separate incidents, between December 2019 and March 2022, where children aged 14 to 17 were strip-searched by officers in custody or subjected to more intimate searches outside custody.
The force acknowledged that strip searches could traumatise young people and leave a lasting impact on them.
Deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor said, “we have already made a number of changes to the way we work to ensure that officers consider the child first and take a safeguarding approach. We are also in the process of reviewing complaints received over the past three years in relation to strip searches involving children under the age of 18. This includes searches outside the custody environment where intimate parts are exposed”.
“Strip searches in custody and searches that expose more intimate parts outside of custody are important in ensuring the safety of the person being searched as well as protecting communities from drugs and weapons. But they must, of course, be carried out appropriately and in line with our policy” Taylor said.
“We have already confirmed three cases have been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct for that important independent oversight of how police carried out those searches – these cases are known as ‘Child Q’, ‘Child A’ and ‘Olivia’. We have now made a further eight voluntary referrals to the IOPC.”