Strengthening Safeguards: Proposals to Enhance Protection for Vulnerable Individuals during Police Searches

 

The Government is proposing measures to bolster protections for children and vulnerable individuals subjected to police strip searches, including the requirement to inform parents and guardians.

 

Following the ‘Child Q’ case, reviews conducted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the Children’s Commissioner for England found that safeguarding during strip searches, particularly concerning intimate exposure, were not adequately prioritised, as stated by the Home Office.

 

A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review concluded that Child Q, a black pupil strip-searched at school in 2020 at the age of 15 without an appropriate adult present, should never have undergone such a search. The proposed amendments to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 mandate authorisation by a senior officer for any strip search of a child or vulnerable person. Police are required to make safeguarding referrals to children’s services whenever a child undergoes a search exposing intimate areas, ensuring appropriate action, according to the Home Office. Further proposed changes include treating under-18s as children when there is suspicion, acknowledging safeguarding needs during intimate searches, and notifying a senior officer if no appropriate adult was present due to urgency. A six-week consultation commenced on April 30, seeking input from law enforcement, children’s services, and practitioners. Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp stated, “Strip search is intrusive and should be used proportionately to ensure safety”.

 

Details of the consultation which closes at noon on the 10th June 2024 can be found here:

 

https://shorturl.at/eosxI

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