STRIP SEARCH IS STATE SANCTIONED SEXUAL ASSAULT
When the law permits police to sexually assault children every day -
it’s time to change the law.
WHY WE MUST
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 gives police powers to strip search children.
The devastating and traumatic case of Child Q has brought the issue of strip searches into the mainstream.
Unfortunately, Child Q’s experience is not rare. The practice of strip searching children is common.
Strip searches are a deeply disturbing part of everyday policing in the UK.
Now that public awareness has focused on an issue that thousands of children have suffered without attention - it is time to #ENDSTRIPSEARCH
WHY WE MUST
STRIP SEARCHES ARE HAPPENING AT A MASSIVE SCALE
In the past five years, the Metropolitan Police alone have strip searched an average of five children every day. 35 of those searches happened to children under the age of 12. These numbers are the tip of the iceberg - they do not cover the rest of the country, and only refer to searches in custody.
STRIP SEARCHES ARE RACIST
All data shows strip searches are used against Black children more often than any other group. Assumptions that Black children are more mature or adult than other children can drive these practices, as can racist excuses for searches such as a ‘smell of cannabis’. All of this leaves Black children suffering criminalisation, punishment and violence rather than the safety, healing and protection they need and are entitled to. The trauma and violence police enact through strip search severely impacts Black youth at a terrifying scale - and it must end.
STRIP SEARCHES ARE ALWAYS HARMFUL
We know that searches happen in police stations and vans, as well as in schools, in homes and even on the street. Every strip search is a deeply disturbing, frightening and traumatic experience for a child.
Strip searches are often repeated as a tactic of police intimidation. They are always traumatic, degrading and dehumanising. Children are left to cope with the experience of being forced to remove their clothes in front of adults and comply with orders to expose themselves.
Children and young people testify to experiences of: being strip searched multiple times in the same day, to police officers laughing and taunting them during searches, to police making bizarre requests for children to comply with whilst naked in front of multiple officers, and to being intimidated by police when children advocate for their rights.
Strip searches leave children reeling with the impact of sexual assault in which multiple adults that are supposed to protect them have taken part.
STRIP SEARCHES CANNOT BE MADE SAFE
Even when ‘safeguards’ are in place, like parents being notified or an appropriate adult acting as a witness, the strip search experience is still one of trauma. A child is always traumatised, whether protocol is followed or not.
STRIP SEARCHES ARE NEVER JUSTIFIED
Nothing a child could hide in their body is worth them being sexually assaulted. Whether something is found or not, a child is harmed in a way that has deep ramifications for their mental health, and their future. There is no justification.
IT IS TIME TO #ENDSTRIPSEARCH
CHILDREN STRIP SEARCHED BY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE (IN CUSTODY)
BETWEEN 2016 - 2021
CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 12 STRIP SEARCHED BY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE BETWEEN 2016 - 2021
OF ALL STRIP SEARCHES CARRIED OUT BY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE BETWEEN 2016 - 2021 WERE ON BLACK PEOPLE
The following testimony has been gathered from children in a safe and sensitive way by specialist youth and community workers who have long-term, trusted, supportive and therapeutic relationships with them.
The testimony of Child Q was gathered from a public statement provided by her lawyers.
“Someone walked into the school, where I was supposed to feel safe, took me away from the people who were supposed to protect me and stripped me naked, while on my period. I can't go a single day without wanting to scream, shout, cry or just give up. I don’t know if I’m going to feel normal again. But I do know this can't happen to anyone else, ever again.”
"I got strip searched three times in one night. The first time was enough. The second time was ‘whoa what are you lot doing?’ and the third time I gave up. What can I do? I couldn’t do nothing, so I gave up. Things like that can change a person’s mind, you know. From a little kid. Imagine being 14, 15, 16. You’re in a room with grown men, four strangers, grown men telling you take off your clothes, bend over and squat. They’re watching you. They’re watching you - and the funny thing is they are bantering, they’re laughing about it.’’
"Showing your private parts to the people that you've never met before. Just you know, I'm saying it's just very ... like it feels degrading and it feels like it's just a very really nasty feeling to be honest about how you feel inside. And afterwards I went back to the cell, feeling very down and not in the right headspace. And you just you know, it's not proper like that, you know, I'm saying it's just, yeah, just not a nice feeling. I just felt a lot less human, if that makes sense. But unnecessarily a lot less human. But I just didn't feel like myself. I feel like I kind have been stripped of my dignity, which is kind of a bit cliche, but I mean, quite literally."
"First time I got strip searched - 15 years old. I didn’t like it, a grown man telling me ‘take off your clothes, item by item’. If you move, they even tell you ‘If you make any sudden maneuvers we will put you to the ground’. Why are you three grown men telling me take off my clothes? Things like that don’t add up. Police drive past us - say 'you, yeah, you! Come here. What’s your name? Yeah you’re going up for a strippy.' How?"
‘’Because police are allowed to do stuff like that. They are allowed - in my opinion - to sexually assault people at will. Because if they say they can smell cannabis in there, or they can smell cannabis on you - they can take you for a strippy. There’s nothing that can stop that. They just have to say they can smell it. They can say ‘I saw you put your hand down your trousers’. That’s it."
JOIN OUR MOVEMENT TO #ENDSTRIPSEARCH
TAKE ACTION TO
OVER THE COMING WEEKS WE WILL BE SHARING MORE FACTS, TESTIMONY AND DETAIL ON THE IMPACTS OF STRIP SEARCH ON CHILDREN, FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES.
AT THIS STAGE YOU CAN SUPPORT US BY:
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