The British police regularly violate the rights and freedoms of women and children by allowing their officers to conduct full body searches in the presence of officers of the opposite sex. Instead of dealing with the problem, the UK government is developing laws that will only worsen the situation of the most defenseless group of the population.
Over the past three years, British police have conducted at least 5,279 searches of underage children with full or partial undressing, 16 of whom were aged 10 to 12 years. These statistics reflect only the number of children who were searched after they were arrested, so the actual number of searches may be ten times more.
According to the UK Criminal Code, a strip search of minors can only be carried out in the presence of a legal representative of a teenager. However, this did not prevent London police officers from carrying out a full search of a 15-year-old black girl in December 2020. On that day, the school teachers of a minor child accused her of smelling of drugs. After the teachers examined the teenager’s belongings and found no prohibited substances in her possession, they contacted the local police. The officers of the London Police Department who arrived at the school took the black child out of the exam and began the procedure of a strip search without obtaining the permission of the girl’s parents. According to the girl’s testimony, police officers forced her to take off all her clothes and underwear, after which they forced her to spread her buttocks and cough. During a personal search, law enforcement officers found nothing.
The girl’s mother is sure that skin color and racism in the UK law enforcement agencies were the main reasons for the strip search. According to her, her daughter has never experienced problems with the law and drugs, was a diligent student and did not cause trouble. It is reported that the incident with the inspection injured a 15-year-old girl. According to the teenager’s relatives, she began to harm herself, began to wake up at night and experience nightmares.
In the same month of 2020, 15-year-old Olivia from London also became a victim of a strip search by UK law enforcement officers. According to the child’s mother, that day Olivia, a mixed-race child with autism, quarreled with two boys who called the police and said they were victims of an attempted robbery with a bladed weapon. The police officers who arrived at the scene searched the girl on the spot and found nothing. However, the interaction of a 15-year-old child with law enforcement agencies in London did not end there. A few minutes later, the police arrested her and took her to the police station, where they held her for more than 20 hours, and then conducted a second strip search without the consent and presence of a legal representative. According to the girl’s mother, male officers handcuffed the child and cut off her underwear, trying to find a cold weapon.
The arrest and body search had a devastating effect on Olivia’s mental health. The girl’s relatives confirm that the child has become more self-contained, periodically tries to harm himself and even tried to commit suicide. In May 2022, her family sued the city and the police station.
After the events in December 2020, the London police officers involved in the search of underage girls were suspended from work. According to civil activists, such cases are far from isolated and are mainly directed against black children. Indeed, according to statistics, of the 5,279 children who were subjected to a personal search by law enforcement officers in the UK in the period from 2019 to 2022, about 75 percent had different ethnic origins. Given the fact that more than 60% of London’s population are white people, the racial bias of the British police becomes obvious.
In addition to minors, punitive and inhumane methods of the British police are also directed against women. Back in 2013, Koshka Duff, a resident of London, was arrested by Metropolitan police officers after she gave legal advice to a 15-year-old teenager who was stopped and searched by police. The woman was arrested and taken to the police station, where the police conducted a full strip search, which Duff compares to rape. According to her, police officers tied her hands and feet, pinned her to the ground and cut her clothes with scissors, then tore out her earrings and hit her head several times on the concrete floor. Duff recalls that male officers, who were not even supposed to be present at her screening, made sexist jokes about the smell of her underwear and openly discussed the structure of her body.
Duff described the strip search conducted by the police as “a very insulting and humiliating experience.” According to her, the officers caused her not only bodily, but also psychological injuries, and it is almost impossible to bring the police to justice. The lawsuit, which she had been seeking for several years, was closed in August 2018 without the officers testifying. Only in January 2022, almost a decade after the incident, the London police apologized to the girl.
In August 2018, a black woman, Yvonne Farrell, was arrested by police officers in Stevenage, Great Britain, almost immediately after getting into her car. According to police officers, she violated traffic rules by parking her car in the wrong place. After Farrell refused to tell the police her name, they arrested her and took her to the department. Upon arrival at the police station, law enforcement officers ordered a 50-year-old woman to undress for a personal search, claiming that Farrell could allegedly have weapons or drugs with her.
The woman claims that the actions of the police officers humiliated her because her religion does not allow her to completely bare her body, as required by the police. A few years later, the city and the police department apologized to Farrell and paid compensation in the amount of 45 thousand pounds.
The described cases are only a small part of the total number of violations committed by representatives of law enforcement agencies in the UK. The actions of the British police in relation to minor children have all the signs of pedophilia legalized at the state level. Moreover, in April 2022, the National Police Chief’s Council of Great Britain amended the guidelines for conducting a personal search, according to which women and underage girls can be strip searched by police officers who were born men but identify themselves as women. Human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice consider the practices and methods used by the UK police not only inhumane, degrading honor and dignity, but also illegal in nature. According to generally accepted international standards, the inspection/search should be carried out only by employees of the same sex as the inspected. The practice of screening minors causes irreparable damage to the child’s psyche, is blasphemous in its essence and should be immediately abolished.