The use of strip search on children and young people

Date: 24th April 2018
Category: Children in conflict with the law

New figures show that nearly 50 children and young people had clothing removed by police officers as part of stop and search activities over a nine-month period.

Of these, around half of all the searches were 'negative', meaning that nothing was found during the search.

Prior to this data being published, the number of strip searches carried out by Police Scotland on children and young people was unknown. The welcome publication of these figures takes forward a recommendation from Together's 2016 State of Children's Rights report.

However, the prevalence of the use of strip search remains a concern to the Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland, who said:

"While it is important that data is now being collected on strip searches of children, I am concerned about the frequency and the proportion of negative searches. Strip searches of children should only be undertaken in exceptional circumstances, when it is a necessary and proportionate response to a real risk."

This echoes a further recommendation from Together's 2016 State of Children's Rights report that:

"As a matter of principle, children should not be subject to strip-searching unless absolutely necessary, and then, it should be conducted in line with recognised international best practice."

Concerns remain among some of Together's membership that there is a lack of data on intimate searches. Furthermore, the published data doesn't include strip searches conducted once a child is in custody so does not provide a full picture of the extent of the use of strip search on children across Scotland.