More Than 60 Children a Week Strip-Searched in England and Wales, with Disproportionate Targeting of Black and Asian Youth

Reproductive Justice Initiative is concerned about the growing disproportionate rate at which children and young people are being targeted by policing. In England and Wales, over 60 children are strip-searched by police each week. 

A significant portion of these searches disproportionately targets Black and Asian youth. Alarming statistics show that 25% of all stop-and-search incidents involve young people, and in 85% of these cases, police do not find any incriminating evidence.

Poet, activist and educator Shareefa Energy, lays out the lasting impact of police searches on children and young people, and what we can do to put an end to it.

The Runnymede Trust, a leading race equality think tank, has revealed stark racial disparities in policing practices. According to their study, Black individuals are ten times more likely to be searched by police than their white counterparts. Furthermore, Black children are more than six times as likely to be subjected to a strip search compared to white children.

Dr. Shabna Begum, Chief Executive of the Runnymede Trust, highlighted the profound impact of these practices. In an interview with The Guardian, she stated, “Strip searches are inherently violent, humiliating, and harmful, especially for children. If we actually want to build safer communities and safeguard our children, we need to invest in our social infrastructure and ensure people have the opportunities and resources to thrive and flourish.”

What Can You Do?

Intervene as a Bystander: If you witness a stop-and-search involving children, especially Black children, consider intervening by filming the incident to ensure accountability.

Educate and Empower: Parents and guardians should familiarise themselves with resources like the StopWatch parent guide, which provides valuable information on how to discuss stop-and-search practices with children. Follow and support the work of  Northern Police Monitoring Project, Netpol and local copwatch organisations.

Support for Children Impacted by Policing

The 4Front Project: This community-led youth organisation empowers individuals harmed by the criminal legal system, advocating for racial equity and healing.

Kids of Colour: Committed to racial justice, this anti-racist youth work organisation supports young people of colour in Greater Manchester.

Mind: As the leading mental health charity in England and Wales, Mind offers crucial support and resources for those affected by mental health issues, including those stemming from traumatic police interactions.

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