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Police In London Have Strip-Searched Over 4,600 Children In The Last Five Years

The children were aged between 10 and 16.

1. Between April 2008 and last year, 4,638 children were strip-searched by Metropolitan police officers.

(Picture: Ben A. Pruchnie / Getty)

Figures obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act show just over a third of the children asked to remove their clothes and searched by police were released without charge.

Between 2009 and 2014, just over 134,000 people were searched by Met officers - of whom 10.5% were female and 3.5% were children.

Last year, 803 children were subjected to a strip search, down from a peak of 990 in 2010.

Sophie Khan, legal director of Police Action Centre, a charity which helps people with their rights when pursuing action against the police, told the Guardian: “Strip searching is an inhuman and degrading experience and children should not be subjected to such treatment unless there is no other feasible method to detect crime available to the police.”

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty

Responding to the report, a spokesperson for the Met police said: “The figures for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) show that the number of juveniles strip searched peaked in 2010; since then there has been a significant drop (18%) in the number of juveniles being strip searched in MPS custody.

“There is no evidence to support the assertion that strip searching of juveniles has become routine.”

They added the number of female juveniles strip searched last year was half the peak in 2010.

“Strip searching is a vital power in police custody not only to identify and seize evidence but also to ensure the safety and security of all detainees and staff. Each search must be based on an objective assessment of the need and proportionality to search the person to that extent. Legal safeguards are applied to ensure the welfare needs of the detainee are considered and met,” the statement declared.

“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies and Prisons undertake regular joint inspections of MPS custody suites and records; they have found the use of strip search to be proportionate and appropriate.”

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Richard James is the UK news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
 
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