Seven cases of child searches are referred to police surveillance

Another seven references involving child searches were made to the police watchdog, the Metropolitan Police said.

The voluntary referrals refer to separate incidents between December 2019 and March 2022 in which children ages 14 to 17 were searched by officers in custody or subjected to “more intimate searches outside of custody,” according to the force.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), returned two of the referrals forcibly to investigate. The other five are still pending at the IOPC.



In response, we’ve already made a number of changes to the way we work to ensure officers consider the child first and take a protective approach.

Assistant Deputy Commissioner Laurence Taylor

It comes after three cases were referred to the watchdog. Two teenagers, known as Child Q and Olivia, were searched by police while menstruating.

A third case, involving a child known only as Child A, was confirmed to be investigated by the Met last month.

Assistant Deputy Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “We understand the trauma and lasting impact that these types of searches can have on people, especially young people, and we understand the public’s concerns after several cases.

“In response, we’ve already made a number of changes to the way we work to ensure officers consider the child first and take a protective approach. We are also reviewing complaints received over the past three years regarding intimate searches involving minors under the age of 18. This includes searches outside the custody environment where private parts are exposed.

“Personal searches in custody and searches that expose more intimate parts outside of custody are important to ensuring the safety of the person searched, as well as protecting communities from drugs and guns. But they must, of course, be carried out properly and in accordance with our policy.

“We have already confirmed that three cases have been referred to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) for this important independent oversight of how the police carried out these searches – these cases are known as ‘Child Q’, ‘Child A’ and ‘Olivia’. We have already made seven more voluntary referrals to the IOPC.”

People protest outside the Stoke Newington Police Station in London over the treatment of Child Q (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

(PA wire)

Child Q was searched by female Metropolitan Police officers in 2020 after she was wrongly suspected of carrying marijuana at her school in east London.

The search took place without the presence of another adult and knowing that she was menstruating, according to a safeguard report.

The local review of child protection practice, conducted by the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP), concluded that the strip search should never have taken place, was unwarranted, and racism “probably was a factor.”

The second anonymous teenager, who was given the pseudonym Olivia by the BBC, was arrested after being accused of theft and, while in custody, was found with a sharpened stick and a small blade, allegedly for self-harm, her mother said. .

This prompted six police officers to search the 15-year-old autistic in front of male colleagues, leaving her traumatized, and the BBC reported that she later tried to kill herself.

The Met said updates that have been made since the Child Q report was published include updating officers on the “additional search” policy, offering advice on dealing with schools and changing the under-18 policy.

Officers must now also obtain permission from an inspector and speak with a supervisor before carrying out the search. An adult must also be present.

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