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ADCS response: OCC report on strip search of children

Steve Crocker, ADCS President, said:

“This report highlights some deeply concerning practices which will have a significant negative impact on the children involved, their families and communities. Children who are in conflict with the law should be treated as children first and foremost and their rights and welfare should always be respected and protected. Furthermore, police officers should use their powers appropriately and lawfully. We are particularly concerned about non-compliance with statutory safeguards in place to keep children safe and the ethnic disproportionality of the children involved which is highlighted by this data. But this is not the first report to highlight such disparities. We know young black males are more likely to be stopped and searched than their white peers, Black children are also overrepresented in the youth justice system, care system and in school exclusions. Much more needs to be done nationally to understand the reasons for this as a first step to acting on longstanding challenges of over representation and discrimination in the system.

“The report makes some sensible recommendations for the Home Office, police forces and others that would make a difference to children and young people. These include a review of the legislative and policy framework for searches involving children in custody and under stop and search powers, strengthening the existing PACE codes of conduct, training on safeguarding and trauma informed practice for frontline officers and annual reporting by police forces on searches of children, including ethnicity data .

“Difficult and poor childhood experiences of policing practices can shape views of the justice system and lead to a distrust and lack of confidence in the police. When poor practice is identified, there must be meaningful commitment to learning lessons so that all children are adequately safeguarded and treated fairly by those whose role it is to protect them. As directors of children’s services, it is our job to work closely with partners across multiple agencies who work with or interact with children, and to challenge them when behaviours or practices are unacceptable. This report highlights treatment of children which falls short of what we would expect. Protecting children’s rights and safeguarding them must be the top priority for all professionals who come into contact with them.”

ENDS


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