Black children more likely to be strip-searched in England, Wales
This is just another example of institutional racism that the police continue to deny exists, the president of the National Black Police Association said.
An official report accuses police of abusing their power to strip-search children, with Black children much more likely than white children to be selected by officers for the ordeal.
Data collected by the office of the children's commissioner found that officers have been abusing their power with at least 2,847 recorded strip-searches of children pre-arrest taking place across England and Wales between 2018 and 2022 under stop and search powers.
38% of children who were strip-searched were Black, according to the report that will be released on Monday. Black children make up 5.9% of the population, which means that they were six times over-represented.
A quarter of the black children who were strip-searched were 10-15 years of age, the youngest was eight.
Rachel de Souza, the children's commissioner, expressed her shock by the ethnic disproportionality.
On his part, the president of the National Black Police Association, Insp Andy George, said it was another example of institutional racism – which police leaders deny exists.
Read more: London police riven with institutional 'racism, misogyny'
A report by Louise Casey last week concluded that the Metropolitan police display institutional racism and that the discrimination was "baked in".
#Britain's police watchdog has called for an explanation for the rampant misogyny and "disgraceful" behavior after a newly published report cited widespread bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination. pic.twitter.com/VzlZT86Ci0— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) February 7, 2022
The report showed that the police were not following rules in more than half of these strip searches as in more than half of the cases. In more than half of the cases, there was no appropriate adult present. A few of these searches took place in public view.
Some of the strip searches were even conducted by an officer of a different gender than the child being stripped.
Last year, there was outrage when a 15-year-old schoolgirl in London who was on her period was pulled out of class to be strip-searched.
Read more: Dozens of UK police officers disciplined over sexual offenses
“All children deserve protection and safeguarding. It is shocking that young Black boys are so disproportionately subject to strip searches, often without an adult present. We hope that guidelines on strip searches can be tightened and the issue of racial disparity is taken seriously by all chief constables," the president of the National Black Police Association said of the report.
“All children deserve protection and safeguarding. It is shocking that young Black boys are so disproportionately subject to strip-searches, often without an adult present. We hope that guidelines on strip-searches can be tightened and the issue of racial disparity is taken seriously by all chief constables.”
The report will say the practice is not limited only to the Met, and it will make recommendations for the rules to be tightened. A recent poll found Black children’s trust in the police was at 36%, half that of white children.
The Casey report said strip-searching as done by the Met was an example of “over-policing and disproportionate use of powers against certain communities” and may be due to “‘adultification', where Black children are treated as adults and as a threat, therefore justifying greater use of force or intrusive interventions."
Read more: Palestinian PM blasts 'racism' of Israeli minister