Commissioner responds to IOPC investigation into Child Q
As Children’s Commissioner, it is my responsibility to make sure children’s voices are heard and their rights protected. On that basis, I welcome the conclusion of the IOPC’s investigation.
My thoughts continue to be with Child Q whose experience of being strip searched by the police at school was incredibly traumatic. As I have said repeatedly, Child Qs experience was absolutely contrary to how children should expect to be treated.
I am glad to see that the Metropolitan Police will have to issue a full apology to Child Q but sorry doesn’t go far enough. Sorry needs to mean that it won’t happen again.
That was the clear test I set when I first heard about what happened to Child Q and it still has not been met.
Unfortunately, this is not just about one girl or one police force. My research across all police forces in England and Wales has shown that there are systemic problems with child protection and safeguarding when it comes to strip searches.
Forces have not been following the existing rules and black boys have been disproportionally affected. The rules need to be strengthened and forces need to follow them. I will continue to publish information on police strip searches until I am assured that things have improved.
I support the IOPC’s recommendation for a substantial review of police powers, which I recommended to the Home Office over a year ago.
Strip searches are traumatic and should only ever been used in the most exceptional of circumstances with the most robust safeguards and the highest possible scrutiny. Children must be able to trust adults whose job it is to keep them safe.
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