Strip searches are being carried out disproportionately on black and ethnic minority suspects held by the Met, with some having their clothing removed without justification, official watchdogs warned today.
In a joint report, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Peter Clarke, and HM Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams, said that these suspects accounted for “25 percent of the through put” but “51 percent of those strip-searched” during their 12-month assessment of the treatment of those taken into custody in the capital.
The inspectors added that “not all the strip searches that we saw during the inspection were warranted or properly justified” and that they should be done only when there are reasonable grounds to fear an illicit item is being hidden.
Their report says that a “high proportion of children” are being
Proportion of strip searches conducted on black and ethnic minority detainees
Referring to so-called “spit hoods” the inspectors also highlighted “the length of time some detainees remained in ‘spit and bite’ guards”, as well as the use of “poor techniques” and the “proportionality of some of the force used”.
They added that there is inadequate scrutiny of such incidents by both the Met’s leadership and the Mayor’s office, although they emphasised that custody staff are “generally patient and sensitive” and try to calm detainees to defuse potential confrontations.
Staff were “generally well trained” and showed “respectful treatment of detainees”, the report said.
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Officers try to divert children and “vulnerable” adults away from custody to other services, but the inspectors warned that some of these efforts were undermined by lack health service accommodation for mentally unwell detainees, which is sometimes forcing officers to hold them for long periods.