Racial profiling report looks at strip-searches in England

London –

Black children in England and Wales are six times more likely to be examined naked by police, according to a report released Monday.

Children’s Commissioner Rachel De Souza found that about 3,000 children were searched naked between 2018 and mid-2022.

The investigation was launched after a black 15-year-old girl suspected of having marijuana was searched naked at a London school in 2020 by two female police officers without the presence of another adult. . The girl identified as “Child Q” was menstruating and no drugs were found. Earlier reports said racism was likely a contributing factor to the humiliating search.

“A girl’s courage to speak out about a traumatic event that happened to her” led to reports that found evidence of “widespread breaches” of safeguards and “practices of deep concern”.

The findings showed last week that the public has lost faith in the Metropolitan Police, that the police are plagued by systemic racism, misogyny and homophobia, and that they are not doing enough to get rid of rogue police officers. It follows a scathing report that uncovered. The report was commissioned after a police officer raped and murdered a young woman.

Eight-year-olds are being searched in often inappropriate places, such as amusement parks and rides, and sometimes even in public places, according to new reports.In some cases, at least one police officer has been searched. It was a different gender than the child.

More than a third of the 2,847 searches were for Black children, making them more than six times more likely to be searched based on their demographic, the report said. White children were about half as likely to be searched.

De Souza called the disparity “completely unacceptable”.

The Runnymede Trust, a racial equality think tank, said the findings were “even more difficult to absorb” than those on the Metropolitan Police, which has faced critical reports in the past. They demanded that they be removed and that their authority to search the children naked be revoked.

“Police officers often fail to justify the need for nude body searches, nor are they able to report on the impact of protection on the children involved,” the group said. It confirms that the police crisis is not just limited to London, but nationwide.”

De Souza said a search for nudity may be necessary, but “strong safeguards” are needed to protect the child.

Among her 17 recommendations, she called on the Home Office to review its laws and policies for searches and to make specific changes to the Police and Crime Evidence Code.

A spokesperson said the interior ministry takes the protection of children very seriously.

“Strip searches are one of the most intrusive powers available to police,” a spokesperson said. “No one should be subject to strip searches based on race or ethnicity, and safeguards exist to prevent this.”

De Souza also called on the National Police Chiefs’ Council to announce plans to reform child searches.

Chief Constable Craig Guilford said the council welcomed the scrutiny and would consider the findings.

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