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A Tortoise File

Stripped. Searched. Traumatised. Children and the police

How many more Child Qs are there? How many children are strip-searched by the police and who are they? Patricia Clarke and Claudia Williams investigate.

Stripped. Searched. Traumatised. Children and the police

First published
Monday 30 May 2022

Last updated
Monday 30 May 2022

Why this story?

Occasionally a story comes along and it stops you in your tracks. The case of Child Q was one such story. She was a 15-year-old black girl who was strip searched by the police at school while on her period. An official report into the incident concluded the search should never have happened and racism was a factor in the decision to strip search her. Child Q’s mother and aunt say she now self-harms and screams in her sleep. They say they have seen her change from a happy-go-lucky girl to a timid recluse who hardly speaks. We started this story wanting to know how often the police subject children to this kind of strip search – what the Metropolitan Police calls a more thorough search where intimate parts are exposed. From that followed questions about why, who and where. You might think in an age where data is everywhere it would be relatively easy to answer these questions. Far from it. Jasper Corbett, Editor

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