The PSNI has strip-searched children on 34 occasions last year with the overwhelming majority of the searches finding nothing, it has been revealed.
Most of the young people who were strip searched in 2021 by the PSNI were aged from 15 to 17, according to a report in The Detail. However, two children aged from 12 to 14 were also strip searched.
Claire Kemp, a policy officer at the Belfast-based Children’s Law Centre, said the findings are “deeply shocking and concerning”, and that the PSNI should stop strip searching under-18s immediately as the practice represents a “fundamental breach of children’s rights”.
In 14 of the 34 cases of under-18s being strip searched in 2021, the PSNI has been unable to provide any justification for why these strip searches were conducted, even though PSNI members are supposed to record this.
The PSNI also found no drugs, weapons or anything else harmful as a result of almost all (31/34) of the strip searches officers carried out on under-18s last year. They found drugs due to strip searches in three such instances.
Ms Kemp, from the Children’s Law Centre, called these statistics “worrying”. She also said: “It is difficult to think of a situation where the strip searching of children could ever be justified.”
Saoradh has been highlighting the treatment being meted out to children by British Crown Forces. It said it noted the new statistics with disgust.
“We have witnessed children being assaulted and arrested by the same people implementing these searches. It is clear to see that these are tactics being deliberately employed by thugs in uniform,” it said.
“In any society it would be expected that elected representatives would be highlighting these issues and calling for action against the perpetrators. The fact that a number of those representatives sit on the so called policing board and remain silent tells its own story.
“Saoradh will continue to highlight the child abuse being meted out by the Crown Forces. We won’t remain silent while children face assaults, arrests and strip searches at the hands of an unacountable occupational force.
“While child abuse is a Crown Force policy, Saoradh can’t and won’t remain silent.”