EQUAL & ARE call for an urgent review into Met Police strip searching children
Responding to the Children’s Commissioner’s findings on the strip-search of children by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Action for Race Equality (ARE) CEO and Vice-Chair of EQUAL, Jeremy Crook OBE, calls for an urgent review of the Met Police’s practice of strip searching children.
We are outraged by the findings from the Children’s Commissioner’s Office showing that over a two-year period 650 children in London were strip-searched, with Black children being overwhelming targeted. It shows that the horrific case of Child Q was not an isolated incident but indicative of deep institutional racism at the very heart of the Metropolitan Police.
Let us be clear, the practice of strip-searching children, where over half of instances had no further action taken against them, is an abuse of power which routinely dehumanises and degrades children.
Jeremy Crook OBE, CEO ARE & Vice Chair EQUAL
It is no wonder that youth-led frontline organisations in London such as 4Front are naming this practice as ‘state-sanctioned sexual assault.
As a national charity, Action for Race Equality, calls on Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Sir Mark Rowley the incoming Metropolitan Commissioner, to have an urgent overhaul of how Black children and young people are targeted and unjustly criminalised by the Metropolitan Police.
We support the Children’s Commissioner investigation into all police forces and call on the London Mayor to ensure that the new Metropolitan Commissioner appoints experts from outside of policing and from the Black community to tackle institutional racism within the force.
The MPS has shown time and time again, it is not capable of addressing the harm it causes to Black communities and children. Rolling out yet another training course is just tinkering at the edges of reform and falls short of the real systemic change that is needed.
We call for the following:
- The immediate cessation of all strip-searches of children, unless there is an exceptional circumstance and an adult the child trusts is present.
- Clear guidance and transparent processes that define exceptional or urgent situations and make local community scrutiny integral to ensuring that the guidance is being followed.
- A clear complaints system and consequences for officers who fail to follow the guidance and conduct strip-searches without a trusted adult present.
- Real and wide-reaching institutional change, including an urgent review and corresponding action plan to address the unjust practice of strip-search and how it connects with other forms of discriminatory practice targeting Black children such as the Gangs Violence Matrix, Stop and Search, Use of Tasers and Use of Force powers, Facial recognition. This must be done with involvement from local experts and children with lived experience of police discrimination in the Black community.
For more information contact Maithreyi Rajeshkumar