Black people disproportionately strip-searched by police in England, Wales

by IANS |

London, June 10 (IANS) Black people are "disproportionately strip-searched by nearly all police forces" in England and Wales, a recent analysis of new Home Office strip search data shows.

According to a study by the Runnymede Trust, an independent race in the UK equality think tank, Black children are 6.5 times more likely than white children, and Black adults are 4.7 times more likely than white adults, to be strip-searched by police, reports Xinhua news agency.

The data comes alongside a Home Office consultation on the use of strip searches against minors. This follows the Child Q scandal in 2020, during which a 15-year-old Black girl was strip-searched while on her period at her school in East London without an appropriate adult present after being wrongly accused of smelling cannabis.

"Strip searching is such an invasive procedure, and when deployed with this level of racialised disproportionality, the harm reaches way beyond the individual child or person," said Shabna Begum, chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, describing the practice as "inherently violent, humiliating and harmful, especially for children."

The study revealed that more than 47 per cent of strip searches conducted on children in London are on Black children, even though they constitute only 16.9 per cent of the city's child population.

In Sussex, a Black person is 18 times more likely to undergo a strip search compared to a white person.

"If we actually want to build safer communities and safeguard our children, we need to invest in our social infrastructure and ensure people have the opportunities and resources to thrive and flourish," Begum said.

"We cannot continue to be told by politicians across the political spectrum that so-called 'tough on crime' policies are the solution to social problems," she added.

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