South Yorkshire Police reveal number of strip searches carried out on children

Strip searches have been carried out on 20 children since 2017 by South Yorkshire Police, official figures reveal.

Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 2:43 pm

Police say the searches, which have been revealed following a freedom of information request and look at people aged between 15 and 17, had resulted in seven items being found.

The statistics are revealed after a safeguarding report made national headlines as details of a child – known as Child Q –being strip-searched at school by police in London emerged.

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Police Officers stop and search a car and its occupents in Firth Park. Figures reveal 20 under 18s have been strip searched since 2017

On the day of the incident, Child Q was taken out of an exam and strip-searched by two female police officers, looking for cannabis, while teachers waited outside. No drugs were found.

Child Q

Two London boroughs have since changed the rules so that police must first get permission from police inspectors before strip-searching a child.

The South Yorkshire figures follow a freedom of Information (FOI) request which was sent to South Yorkshire Police in March.

South Yorkshire Police figures reveal 20 under 18s have been strip searched since 2017

It defines a strip and search as when officers search “more than jeans, outer garments and gloves - exposes intimate parts” and provides figures from May 2017 until the end of 2021.

The FOI response stated that 24 youngsters had been strip searched over that time period – but offices later clarified that the correct figure was 20 because four had wrongly been tagged on the list.

In total, including adults, 508 people were strip searched by officers during the same time period. And the figures revealed that 51 were female, and 457 were male.

Why do police strip search people?

Commenting on the figures, South Yorkshire Police said in a statement: “Stop and search is a crucial policing tactic that enables us to protect and serve the public of South Yorkshire, by preventing and reducing violent crime, and removing drugs and weapons from our streets.

“There are occasions when young people can be lawfully searched under PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) and the misuse of drug act. This is carried out in a measured, proportionate and considerate manner if it has to be done, with an appropriate adult representative present throughout if more than an outer search of clothing is taking place.

“Internally and externally we hold scrutiny panels around stop and search and review body worn footage of encounters to learn more about our response.

“We review stop and search statistics in order to understand the reasons behind any disproportionality in the members of the community that we search. We take an evidence-based approach and review studies and research to understand why members of certain communities are more frequently the subject of stop and search. This is a national issue, but some studies suggest that disproportionality is affected by interaction with communities who reside in areas with higher volumes of crime, which in turn may lead to the stop and search figures being disproportionate. Our officers have been trained in recognising unconscious bias and have discussed disproportionality in these sessions.

“There is more information about the work we’re doing to address issues of disproportionality on our website here – www.southyorks.police.uk/find-out/stop-and-search/data-outcomes-and-disproportionality.”