Black youngsters over six instances extra more likely to be strip searched by police

Black children are more than six times more likely to be strip searched by police than white children, research shows.

Analysis of Home Office strip search data shows Black people are disproportionately targeted by nearly all police forces in England and Wales. The research, by race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, found Black kids are 6.5 times more likely than white children to be strip searched by police, while Black adults are 4.7 times more likely than white adults.

The study comes after the case of Child Q, a Black girl who was strip searched while on her period in her school in Hackney, east London, after being wrongly accused of smelling of cannabis. Nearly half (47.7%) of strip searches carried out on children in London are on Black children, despite the group only making up 16.9% of London’s child population, the Runnymede Trust found.

The think tank said a Black person is 18 times more likely to be subject to a strip search than a white person in Sussex. The organisation has called for powers allowing police to strip search minors to be immediately revoked.

Dr Shabna Begum, chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, said: “Strip searches are inherently violent, humiliating and harmful, especially for children. As the general election looms, 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.

“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. 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.”