AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL is calling on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to end the practice of strip searching children. The call comes after an investigation revealed that members of the Policing Board have serious concerns about the practice and have criticised the PSNI’s response.

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 on one, a mobile phone.

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. This ongoing practice raises serious questions about the PSNI’s commitment to human rights and the UK’s obligations under international human rights law to uphold the rights of the child, despite concerns raised by Policing Board members and children’s rights organisations.

“Strip searching children is just one area where we have concerns about the PSNI’s use of intrusive policing powers, alongside their use of spit and bite guards, and stop and search. Rather than establishing a panel to review each case of a child being strip searched, the PSNI should simply end this shocking practice immediately.”

Amnesty International says 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”.

* More on the investigation into PSNI’s strip search policy here.

* Source: Amnesty International