Mind responds to Children’s Commissioner data on strip-searches of children
Data released at the request of the Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, reveals there were 650 strip-searches of children between 2018 and 2020, with over half of these resulting in no further action being taken.
Responding to the data, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs at Mind said:
“These incredibly concerning data show that the appalling treatment of ‘Child Q’ by the Metropolitan Police was not a one-off incident, but instead part of a larger pattern of wrongful and discriminatory behaviour.
“People with mental health problems, including children, are more likely to be victims of crime and feel the impact of crime more acutely than the general population. Police officers are often first on the scene when someone experiences a mental health crisis, but invasive and damaging interactions like these strip-searches can destroy trust in police, and even worsen mental health problems.
“It is disgraceful that nearly a quarter of those children strip-searched between 2018 and 2020, some as young as 10 years old, did not have an appropriate adult present. Not only does this raise serious safeguarding concerns, but the lack of any further action casts doubts on how justified and necessary these intrusive and often traumatising searches were. With Black boys making up more than half of the searches, it is clear these searches are motivated by racism.
“It’s right that the Children’s Commissioner has questioned the Metropolitan Police’s ability to consistently prioritise the physical and mental welfare of children and is now looking for all forces nationally to release data on strip-searches of young people. With children’s mental health needs growing at a rapid pace, it’s essential that anyone who regularly comes into contact with younger people as part of their job – like police officers – treats them with respect, dignity and in a safe environment.”