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London police strip-searched 650 children over a two-year period: New data

London police strip-searched 650 children over a two-year period: New data

London: London's under-fire police force strip-searched more than 600 children over a two-year period, and the majority were found to be innocent of the suspicions against them, according to new data released Monday.

The data obtained from Scotland Yard by the Children's Commissioner showed some 650 children aged 10 to 17 were strip-searched by Metropolitan officers between 2018 and 2020.

England's commissioner for children, Rachel de Souza, said she was "deeply shocked" by the figures after obtaining them from the Metropolitan police.

De Souza sought out the figures after the Child Q scandal came to light in March, in which a 15-year-old schoolgirl who was on her period was strip-searched by police in 2020 after being wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis at school, despite them being aware she was menstruating.

She was searched without an "appropriate adult" present, and neither was an adult in attendance in 23 percent of the cases unearthed by de Souza.

Among those who were strip-searched, more than 95 percent were boys, and 58 percent of the 650 were described by the officer as being black.

De Souza said she was "extremely concerned" at the ethnic imbalance, and said Child Q may be part of a bigger "systemic problem around child protection" in the Met.

The figures had gone up sharply year after year, she said, and showed that a significant number of children "are being subjected to this intrusive and traumatising practice each year".

In response to de Souza's findings, the Met said it had already instituted changes "to ensure children subject to intrusive searches are dealt with appropriately and respectfully".

Some children may themselves be a "vulnerable victim of exploitation" by gangsters and drug criminals, it conceded.

London mayor Sadiq Khan redoubled his criticism of the Met after slamming the force over the Child Q case and other incidents.

It was "deeply concerning" that so many body searches were happening without an adult present, a spokesman for Khan said.

"And there remain serious wider issues with regard to disproportionality and the use of stop and search on young black boys," the spokesman said.

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TAGS:London police strip search 
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