An investigation that found that London police strip-searched hundreds of children, leading to a wider probe of potential abuses around England. The inquiry said the Metropolitan Police searched children as young as 10 years old on an almost-daily basis and revealed 650 strip-searches between 2018 and 2020. It said 42 percent of the children were young Black boys, reports the Washington Post. The children’s commissioner for England said she was “unconvinced” that the police were “consistently considering children’s welfare” after her report found that another adult was not present during nearly a quarter of the searches. This was despite a law requiring the presence of a parent, guardian or social worker.
“A police power that is as intrusive and traumatic for children as a strip search must be treated with the utmost care and responsibility,” said Commissioner Rachel de Souza. The probe began after the case of a Black school girl in 2020 prompted protests in east London. Female officers strip-searched the 15-year-old, identified as “Child Q” in British media, on school grounds without another adult present and while she was menstruating. Her mother was not notified. A local review said that while the child was undressed because of suspicions she was carrying cannabis, officers did not uncover any drugs, and it concluded that racism probably influenced their approach. The Metropolitan Police said Tuesday it was working to “balance the policing needed for this type of search with the considerable impact it can have on young people." After the uproar over Child Q, police officers in her area received training on racial bias including not treating Black children as adults.