Nine Waltham Forest teenagers strip-searched by police in the last year

A local activist said he was “not shocked but angry and frustrated”
By Victoria Munro

(credit: Met Police)
(credit: Met Police)

Waltham Forest police strip-searched nine teenagers in the last year, of which more than half were black.

The CEO of Spark2Life, which recently set up a service to help local young people complain about stop and search, said he was “not shocked, but angry and frustrated” at the revelation.

The figure was revealed by the area’s borough commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker, in response to a letter from Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy on 22nd March.

MP Creasy had asked questions about the use of stop and search in response to the shocking news that a 15-year-old black girl was strip-searched at her Hackney school in 2020, which DCI Tucker said was “regrettable and should never have happened”.

He wrote that there were nine incidents in which someone younger than 18 was strip-searched in Waltham Forest over the last year, out of 271 incidents in London as a whole.

He added: “While I don’t have the gender breakdown of the searches conducted in Waltham Forest, out of the 271 London searches, six were female.

“The ethnic breakdown for the nine searches in Waltham Forest are three Asian, five black and one white.

“All officers receive training regarding stop and search and this is regularly refreshed on development days and during officer safety training. In light of the safeguarding report surrounding Child Q, the [Met] has announced a review of how more intimate searches are conducted.”

Adding that she was expecting more information at a later date, MP Creasy said she was “pleased the local police responded so quickly” and ministers failed to engage with her.

Dez Brown, CEO of community initiative Spark2Life, based in Walthamstow’s Outset Centre, said the news was unsurprising given “young people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds continue to be disproportionately criminalised”. 

He added: “[This often leads] to a traumatic event that also impacts the wider POC community, leading to further re-traumatisation and a continued lack of trust and confidence in statutory systems. 

“Until all of society accepts systemic racism exists and those in positions of power and leadership tackle this, sadly we will continue to hear more stories of abuse and oppression, specifically towards black and ethnic minority communities.”