The Children’s Commissioner’s review on strip search in the UK does not go far enough

The Children’s Commissioner’s review on strip search in the UK does not go far enough

Despite the review discovering and highlighting that strip search powers are being used in an unlawful, racially discriminatory and harmful way :

  1. More than half (52%) of strip searches were conducted without an Appropriate Adult present
  2. 14 strip searches were conducted in police vehicles or schools. While the location of strip searches was not recorded in 45% of cases, additional potentially inappropriate locations for searches included private businesses, takeaway outlets, and amusement parks;
  3. 1% of strip searches were conducted within public view;6% of strip searches were conducted with at least one officer of a different gender than
  4. Black children are 11 times more likely to be strip-searched in England and Wales than white peers

The review fails to call for the complete overhaul and removal of the strip searching of children. The review also failed to consider the effects of racial trauma from these police encounters. It also fails to look at how the UK’s cannabis policy via the war of drugs policy that operates as a war against our communities is a factor in this.

The report confirms all that BLAM UK and other community abolitionist groups have been saying. Policing has no place in our society and most importantly no place in our schools or around our children and young people. We as community groups and community workers have called for the complete end of the use of strip searches on children.

One thing we can be sure of is that strip search as a practice still remains in place and thus we as the community must find alternative ways to reduce and challenge the harm our young people face under the racially weaponised, state sexual assault tool known as strip search. Lawyers at Black Protest Legal Support have created this useful radical community-forced guide on the Police Power of Strip Search in the UK. Please find the published tool here.

We must also call out the educational space as a site of insitutionalised Anti-Blackness, as we had in our caseload a young Black girl that was subject to a strip search for allegedly concealing a vape. No vape was found on this young person and we successfully challenged the school. Robyn Maynard in Policing Black Lives reminds us  “Black students are not only treated as if they are inferior, but they are also frequently treated as if they are a threat inside of education settings. The presence of Black children and youth remains unwelcome and undesirable in many public schools, and their movements are closely monitored and subject to correction.” Teachers must also be held to account for their complicity with police and in allowing strip searches to take place on school premises. 

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