Greater Manchester Police broke the law when they strip-searched a 15-year-old boy without an appropriated adult present, a report by a watchdog reveals.
The child was strip searched without a social worker, guardian or other adult – known as an ‘appropriate adult’ – being called.
The incident has been described as a clear breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, who have heavily condemned the actions of GMP.
A strip-search involves the removal of more than your outer clothing – outer clothing includes your shoes and socks – and should only be requested when it is considered necessary to remove an item which a detainee would not be allowed to keep, such as a weapon or drugs.
The law says that a strip search can only be conducted in a situation where at least two others are present and in the case of a juvenile one of them must be an ‘appropriate adult’.
A follow-up review published by HMIC highlighted the case on Friday. The purpose of the review was to establish whether or not GMP had implemented a series of recommendations following a damning 2014 report which slammed delays in investigating child abuse cases.
The inspectors’ report said: “We could find no record to explain why the search was considered necessary, or the reasons for any urgency in conducting the search in the absence of an appropriate adult.”
Today’s report reveals that in an audit of 34 cases involving children eight were ‘inadequate’, with 17 deemed ‘good’, and nine ‘requiring improvement’.
In an examination of eight cases where children had witnessed domestic abuse, four were handled well but two required improvement and two were ‘inadequate’.
In four high-risk cases ‘we saw no evidence that strategy meetings had taken place for children exposed to persistent domestic abuse’, says the report.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said: “The protection of children is one of the most important things to every officer within Greater Manchester Police and they strive to safeguard children at every opportunity.
“I do acknowledge we need to continue to improve and develop our service to vulnerable victims. GMP has invested significantly in both resources and technology in the DIU and this will have an impact on the speed of computer analysis in child protection cases.”
By James McCrory