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The Children’s Commissioner for England responds to Home Office proposals to amend Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Codes to strengthen regulation around the use of strip and search powers on children. The Commissioner will be responding to the Government’s proposals in detail as part of the formal consultation.

“Since the shocking and avoidable circumstances of Child Q’s case came to light, I’ve made it my mission to make sure no child is subjected to the same kind of humiliation.

“I welcome the proposals being set out by the government to implement a number of my recommendations to strengthen safeguards when a strip search is carried out, including by notifying parents, which should be an absolute minimum requirement.

“Strip searches on children should only be carried out in certain, exceptional situations, and as a last resort with robust protections in place – so it is reassuring to see explicit reference in these proposals to treating children as children, no matter the circumstances. I would urge the government to go even further by restricting the locations where any search can legally be carried out – no child should be subjected to this at school, where they should feel safe and secure among trusted adults.

“I am also repeating my call for the government to publish annual data on strip searches of children under stop and search powers, as my research found that often the police are not held to account for failing to meet the statutory safeguards that already exist.

“I am hopeful that these proposals will go some way towards shifting this culture, to bring in clearer standards and more effective oversight on these potentially traumatic powers on often very vulnerable young people.”

The Home Office consultation is open until 10 June 2024:

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