Strip Search: When can the police strip search me?

What is a strip search?

A strip occurs when a police officer has a specific reason to search an individual beyond their outer clothing. This means beyond items such as a jacket, shoes, gloves etc.

The police are allowed to conduct these searches under their stop and search powers, however, there are certain conditions that must apply if they do so.

When can the police strip search me?

The police are only able to strip search an individual if they reasonably believe the person has concealed an item they should not possess, and it is necessary for them to remove that item.

Strip searches can often happen after arrest, but you do not need to be arrested to be strip searched.

During a strip search, some of the key legal requirements are that:

  • The officer carrying out the search must be of the same sex as the individual being searched
  • If the individual is 17 years old or under, a strip search can only take place in the presence of an appropriate adult
  • The search must be conducted in a location out of public view or seen by anyone of a different gender (unless an appropriate adult has been requested by the individual)
  • If a strip search involves exposure of intimate body parts, there must be at least two people present other than the individual
  • The officer must conduct the strip search as quick as possible and make every effort to reduce any embarrassment
  • The individual should not be required to remove all their clothing at once – i.e. if you are being searched above the waist, you should be allowed to put these items back on before taking off any clothing below the waist, if necessary.

A strip search was conducted unlawfully – what can I do?

If you believe a strip search was unlawfully carried out on you, you can make a complaint to the police force who conducted the search and can potentially pursue a legal claim against the police.

As unlawful strip search claims involve human rights violations, these must be lodged within 12 months of the incident. Therefore, if you believe you have grounds to pursue such a claim, you should speak with a solicitor as soon as possible.

We at Saunders Law have an experienced Actions Against the Police Team. You can contact our solicitors for independent legal advice via our website or on 020 7632 4300


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