Hundreds of Londoners protested after the Child Q scandal emerged (Picture: ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock)
Black children are up to six times more likely to be strip-searched by police, a damning report has shown.
Research by the Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza revealed more than half of almost-3,000 strip-searches in recent years also took place without an appropriate adult present.
Officers were found to have strip-searched children in police vehicles, schools, takeaways and amusement parks across England and Wales.
Dame Rachel, who ordered the report after the Child Q scandal, branded it ‘utterly unacceptable’ and said children are ‘being failed by those whose job it is to protect them’.
Child Q, a 15-year-old black schoolgirl, was strip-searched by police while on her period after being wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis at her school in Hackney, east London.
Scotland Yard apologised and said the strip-search without another adult present ‘should never have happened’.
Dame Rachel later requested strip-search figures from the Met which, when reported last August, showed more than 600 children underwent ‘intrusive and traumatising’ searches over two years, with black boys disproportionately targeted.
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Child Q was wrongly strip-searched by Met Police officers at her school (Picture: Zuma Press/Mega)
Her latest report revealed a total of 2,847 strip-searches of children aged between eight and 17 took place between 2018 and mid-2022.
The vast majority of these were boys (95%), and about 38% were black.
Black children were up to six times more likely to be strip-searched when compared with national population figures, in what was described as a ‘pronounced and deeply concerning ethnic disproportionality’.
Dame Rachel said she has ‘serious concerns about the poor quality of record-keeping, which makes transparency and scrutiny very difficult, and means that the numbers in this report may only be a minimum’.
The presence of an appropriate adult is required by law, except in ‘urgent’ cases, and is usually a parent or guardian but can also be a social worker, carer or volunteer.
Dame Rachel is now calling for ‘urgency’ to be removed as an exception and said constant supervision should be recommended.
The commissioner warned officers are too often ‘forgetting that children are children’ as she demanded a strengthening of the guidelines, more oversight and inspection to ensure compliance.
Dame Rachel said: ‘I find it completely unacceptable that police forces in England and Wales are largely unable to account for the necessity, circumstance and safeguarding outcome of every strip-search of a child that they conduct.
‘I will not accept that the power to strip-search is being used responsibly until that is the case.’
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A report was ordered after a black schoolgirl was strip-searched by police while on her period at school.