New reports on Monday reveal that children, specifically children of minorities, were subjected to strip searches by London police as the Children’s Commissioner of England calls for reforms in law enforcement's current policies on the subject.

Dame Rachel de Souza, the Children’s Commissioner of England, said that the strip-searching of a black girl nicknamed “Child Q” by police officers in March was not an isolated case, and that there were over 650 reports of children being strip-searched by London Metropolitan police officers between 2018 and 2020, according to the BBC.

The Child Q was a young black girl who was forcibly strip-searched by two female police officers without an adult present and without her parents being contacted. She was forced to show her intimate body parts to officers and to take off a sanitary towel for further inspection.

From her findings, over 95% of those strip-searched were young boys, and over 58% were black. And despite a law that makes the presence of an “appropriate adult” in the room mandatory, over 23% of the searches did not have one, the Guardian reported.

“I am not reassured that what happened to Child Q was an isolated issue, but instead believe it may be a particularly concerning example of a more systemic problem around child protection within the Metropolitan Police,” Dame de Souza said.

Findings from looking into the London Metropolitan Police’s conduct also show that more than 53% of the cases where strip searches were ordered did not merit any further action to be taken by the police or by other authorities.

“This report is about state-sanctioned child abuse operating outside the law. It also reveals racist and discriminatory policing and the dehumanising of black children,” Deborah Coles from Inquest said.

“This low level of successful searches arguably indicates that this intrusive practice may well not be justified or necessary in all cases,” de Souza said, before concluding that “I remain unconvinced that the Metropolitan Police is consistently considering children's welfare and wellbeing.”

In response, the Metropolitan Police in London claims that they have moved to disallow strip searches unless there is approval from an inspector in a local command unit.

“The Metropolitan police is progressing at pace work to ensure children subject to intrusive searches are dealt with appropriately and respectfully. We recognise the significant impact such searches can have,” a police spokesperson said about the report.

A report by the Children's Commissioner in England finds that the London Metropolitan police has done over 650 strip-searches of young children in the past two years. This is a representational image. Sean Robbins/Unsplash.

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