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Unlawful strip search - compensation claims

Strip searches should not be routinely carried out, whether or not you have been arrested lawfully.

Such rights are protected by both the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

If you believe you have been dealt with inappropriately and/or unlawfully by the police or another public body, contact our human rights solicitors on 01616 966 229 to find out if you can make a claim. You can also complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you directly.


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Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and European Convention on Human Rights

Your right not to be routinely strip searched is protected by Code C of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, along with further protections as granted by Article 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as now incorporated by the Human Rights Act 1998. 

A strip search may take place only if it is considered necessary to remove an article which a detainee would not be allowed to keep and the officer 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.

Code C explains that, when strip searches are conducted:

  1. The police officer carrying out a strip search must be the same sex as the detainee
  2. 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, except an appropriate adult who has been specifically requested by the detainee
  3. Except in cases of urgency, where there is risk of serious harm to the detainee or to others, whenever a strip search involves exposure of intimate body parts, there must be at least two people present other than the detainee, and if the search is of a:
    • Juvenile or mentally disordered or otherwise mentally vulnerable person, one of the people must be the appropriate adult
  4. The search shall be conducted with proper regard to the sensitivity and vulnerability of the detainee in these circumstances and every reasonable effort shall be made to secure the detainee’s co-operation and minimise embarrassment
  5. If necessary to assist the search
  6. If articles are found, the detainee shall be asked to hand them over
  7. A strip search shall be conducted as quickly as possible, and the detainee allowed to dress as soon as the procedure is complete

These rights are further protected by Article 3 and 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998. Article 3 is the prohibition of torture, ill and/or degrading treatment. Article 8 is the right to protection of your family and private life, including your bodily integrity and autonomy.

If you believe the police or another public authority has not acted in accordance with the above law, contact our human rights solicitors on 01616 966 229 or complete our online enquiry form.

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