Northern Ireland: Policing board to review ‘seriously violating’ PSNI practice of strip searching children
PSNI has strip searched children as young as 12 to 14 years old
Between 2021 and 2022, 53 strip searches were carried out on children
‘The use of strip searches on children is a serious violation of their human rights and dignity’ – Patrick Corrigan
Amnesty International welcomes the news that the Northern Ireland Policing Board will review the Police Service of Northern Ireland practice of strip searching children in custody.
Strip searches involve the removal of clothing and can include the exposure of intimate body parts. The PSNI has strip searched children as young as 12 to 14 years old.
Last year Amnesty called on the PSNI to end the practice of strip searching children altogether.
In 2021, 27 children were strip searched, but only one was accompanied by an appropriate adult. Police say items of interest were only found three times — drugs on two occasions and a mobile phone on the other occasion.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:
“The use of strip searches on children is a serious violation of their human rights and dignity.
“We welcome the Policing Board’s review and hope it is a catalyst for an end to a practice which raises serious questions about the PSNI’s commitment to upholding the rights of the child.”
Violating children’s rights
Strip searches violate a child’s basic human rights. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly states that: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”.
It goes on to say: “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.