Friday, 22 June 2012

Cambridge MP Huppert’s Call To End Police Strip Searches Of Children Rejected


Julian Huppert MP

A call by Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert to stop the police having the power to strip search children without an adult present has been rejected by Home Office Minister, Nick Herbert.

He told Julian that, although he was aware of the arguments in favour of raising the age to 18, there are a number of reasons against changing the law. But he did agree to keep the matter under review.

Julian originally raised the question about police searches in youth custody twice with Mr Herbert, Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice in Parliament after concerns from a resident.

The Parliamentary session ran out of time, however, before a reply could be given and so Mr Herbert replied personally in writing to Julian.

He said: “I am aware of the arguments that organisations such as the Howard League for Penal Reform and others have made in favour of raising the age at which an individual becomes an adult under PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act). However, there are also a number of reasons against changing the law.

“Having carefully weighed up the issues, I have decided that it would not be appropriate to amend the law in this area at the present time. I will, however, keep this matter under review.”

Julian said: “I believe it is totally wrong to have contradictory laws which, on the one hand class children as adults when they reach 18 yet give police the power to carry out invasive searches on those under 18 in youth custody.

“There can be no justification for this type of action without an adult present and my view is shared by others. I am disappointed that Mr Herbert does not see it that way. But I will continue to press for change so that our children can be protected under the law when they are at their most vulnerable.”

The full wording of Julian’s question reads as follows:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 1 March 2012, Official Report, column 465W, on youth custody, if she will consider raising to 18 years the age at which individuals can be strip searched without an adult being present under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.