The report found that Black children were being disproportionately targeted.
The Children’s Commissioner in the UK has found that between 2018 and 2020, 650 children were subject to “intrusive and traumatising” strip searches by the Metropolitan Police Force.
The report by Scotland Yard was commissioned after the Child Q scandal, in which a Black teenage girl was strip-searched on her period by officers without another adult present.
The latest figures show that Black children, particularly Black boys, are being disproportionately targeted by police. As Metro reports, 58% of the children who were strip-searched were Black and 95% were boys.
The Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza said that the figures point to a “systemic problem”.
She said: “I am not reassured that what happened to Child Q was an isolated issue, but instead believe it may be a particularly concerning example of a more systemic problem around child protection within the Metropolitan Police.
“I remain unconvinced that the Metropolitan Police is consistently considering children’s welfare and wellbeing.”
In the Child Q case, two female officers subjected a girl to a strip search at her school in Hackney, London after she was wrongly suspected of carrying drugs. No drugs were found, and a report determined that racism was a likely factor in the traumatising and humiliating ordeal.
At one point during the search, her private parts were exposed and she was made to remove her sanitary towel. She was then sent home in a taxi.
A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review said that it is unlikely that Child Q would have been treated this way if she wasn’t Black. It also said that “adultification” was likely a factor, which occurs when adults’ racism causes them to treat Black children like adults.
The report read: “The disproportionate decision to strip search Child Q is unlikely to have been disconnected from her ethnicity and her background as a child growing up on an estate in Hackney.”