Conduct of Strip and Intimate Searches
In this Annex, the word 'detainee' is used to describe the person who has been detained for the purposes of the search.
A: Strip search
1. A strip search is a search involving the removal of more than outer coat, jacket, gloves, headgear or footwear.
2. A strip search may take place only if it is considered necessary to remove an article which the detainee would not be allowed to keep and the constable reasonably considers the detainee might have concealed such an article. Strip searches shall not be routinely carried out if there is no reason to consider that articles are concealed.
The conduct of strip searches
3. (a) The strip search must be authorised by a constable of the rank of Inspector or above.
(b) The reason for the search must be fully explained to the detainee
(c) A constable carrying out a strip search must be the same sex as the detainee (see Annex B);
(d) the search shall take place in an area where the detainee cannot be seen by anyone who does not need to be present, nor by a member of the opposite sex (see Annex B), except a responsible adult who has been specifically requested by the detainee and who has agreed to be present during the conduct of the search;
(e) Unless sub-paragraph (f) applies, whenever a strip search involves exposure of intimate body parts, constables must ensure that the number of persons who witness the search must be kept to the absolute minimum necessary, although there must always be at least two persons other than the person who is being searched present during the search. No person of the opposite sex to the person being searched who is not a medical practitioner or nurse shall be present. If the search is of a child or young person, the police should try to ensure that a responsible adult is present. Except in urgent cases, as in (f) below, a search of a child or young person may take place in the absence of the responsible adult only if the child or young person signifies in the presence of the responsible person that they do not want that person to be present during the search and that person agrees. A record shall be made of the child or young person's decision and signed by the responsible adult.
(f) The requirements set out in sub-paragraph (e) above may be departed from in cases of urgency, where there is risk of serious harm to the detainee or to others, but only to the extent absolutely necessary.
(g) The search shall be conducted with proper regard to the sensitivity and vulnerability of the detainee in the circumstances and every reasonable effort shall be made to secure the detainee's co-operation and minimise embarrassment. Detainees shall not normally be required to remove all their clothes at the same time, e.g. a person should be allowed to remove clothing above the waist and put those clothes back on before removing further clothing;
(h) If necessary to assist the search, the detainee may be required to hold their arms in the air or to stand with their legs apart and bend forward so a visual examination may be made of the genital and anal areas, provided no physical contact is made with a body orifice;
(i) If articles are found, the detainee shall be asked to hand them over. If articles are found within any body orifice other than the mouth, and the detainee refuses to hand them over, their removal would constitute an intimate search, which must be carried out as in Part B;
(j) A strip search shall be conducted as quickly as possible, and the detainee allowed to dress as soon as the procedure is complete.
(k) Where it is decided that the detainee should be subject to a strip search, the reason for this should be recorded and the name of the authorising officer should also be included.
B: Intimate search
4. An intimate search consists of the physical examination of a detainee's body orifices other than the mouth. The intrusive nature of such searches means the actual and potential risks associated with intimate searches must never be underestimated.
5. Body orifices other than the mouth may be searched only under the authority of a warrant issued by a Sheriff.
6. The search is to be carried out by an Authorised Health Care Professional ( HCP). Examination by a HCP can take place only with the consent of the detainee.
7. In the case of children or young persons, or a person who has a mental illness, personality disorder, autism or a learning disability, the seeking and giving of consent must take place in the presence of a responsible adult.
8. A constable of the same gender as the person to be searched is to be present to corroborate the search.
9. Before the search begins, a constable or designated detention constable, must tell the detainee that a warrant to carry out the search has been issued.
10 Except in urgent cases, and subject to paragraph 11 of this Annex, an intimate search of a child or young person or mentally disordered or otherwise mentally vulnerable person may take place only in the presence of a responsible adult. The responsible adult must be of the same sex as the person to be searched (see Annex B), unless the detainee specifically requests a responsible adult of the opposite sex who is readily available.
11. Except in urgent cases, an intimate search of a child or young person or mentally disordered or otherwise mentally vulnerable person may take place in the absence of a responsible adult only if the child or young person or mentally disordered or otherwise mentally vulnerable person signifies in the presence of the responsible adult that they do not want that person to be present during the search, and that person agrees. A record shall be made of the child or detainee's decision, and signed by the responsible adult.
12 Unless paragraph 13 of this Annex applies, whenever an intimate search occurs, constables must ensure that the number of persons who witness the search must be kept to the absolute minimum necessary, although there must always be at least two persons other than the person who is being searched present during the search. Subject to paragraph 10 of this Annex, no person of the opposite sex to the person being searched who is not a medical practitioner or nurse shall be present. .
13. The requirements set out in paragraphs 10 to 12 of this Annex may be departed from in cases of urgency, where there is risk of serious harm to the detainee or to others, but only to the extent absolutely necessary.
14 The search shall be conducted with proper regard to the sensitivity and any vulnerability of the detainee.
15. In the case of an intimate search, the following shall be recorded as soon as practicable:
- the date the warrant was issued and the fact that the warrant was produced.
- the fact that the appropriate consent was given by the detainee to the health care professional or (as the case may be) refused, and if refused, the reason given for the refusal (if any).
- which parts of the person's body were searched;
- who carried out the search;
- who was present; and
- the result.
Email: Catherine Lobban
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