‘Lack of scrutiny’ fear over West Yorkshire Police strip searches

Concerns have been raised about the use of strip searches by West Yorkshire Police

Concerns have been raised about the use of strip searches by West Yorkshire Police

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The police watchdog has raised concerns about the use of strip searches by officers in West Yorkshire.

Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabularies (HMIC) said there was “confusion” among police in the county about how, when and where the power to remove clothing from a suspect was justified.

In a report on the use of search powers, HMIC inspectors said it was “worrying” that a lack of proper recording meant that the force’s chiefs did not know how often such searches were being carried out.

The report said: “We would expect the level of scrutiny that takes place on stop and search encounters to increase in line with the level of intrusion.

“However, this is not the case. West Yorkshire Police was carrying out no greater scrutiny of these very intrusive searches than it carried out for searches that did not involve the removal of such clothing

“The current lack of additional scrutiny of these types of stop and search encounters does not allow the force to ensure that individuals’ rights are not being severely breached.”

West Yorkshire Police said it was aware of the issue and had taken steps to address it.

A spokesman said: “We have already commissioned software amendments to our recording system to distinguish searches that involve removal of more than outer coat, jacket or gloves or exposure of intimate body parts and these are to be implemented imminently.

“This will allow West Yorkshire Police to include this information within the quarterly report to the Police and Crime Commissioner [Mark Burns-Williamson] on the use of stop and search.”

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