Target: Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and head of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
Goal: Punish police officers who conducted an unwarranted strip search on a 22-year-old woman and left her naked in a cell for 30 minutes
In March of 2011, a London club-goer was arrested by Metropolitan police and taken to Chelsea police station. The unidentified, 22-year-old woman, who was described as “intoxicated, distressed and running in and out of the road” at the time of her arrest, was subjected to an unwarranted strip search at the police station and then left naked in a cell for 30 minutes. Officers claimed that they believed the woman “might be on drugs,” and could have been hiding illegal substances in her clothing. Furthermore, the cell that the woman was left in was under surveillance by closed-circuit security cameras, or CCTV cameras, which were being broadcast at the main custody desk.
The United Kingdom’s Independent Police Complaints Commission, the IPCC, has declared that the police officers searched the woman “without adequate justification.” Furthermore, the IPCC contends that the officers “failed to produce a written record of the strip search and undertake the procedure in line with police rules.” Amongst these rules is the requirement that all officers conducting a strip search must be of the same gender as the person being searched. In this case, four of the five police officers that conducted the search were male, and therefore, the woman’s rights were clearly violated.
In addition, the woman was left entirely unclothed in a cell for half an hour while her every movement was broadcast over CCTV. Not only did this cause an enormous amount of distress and embarrassment for the woman, but it was also a blatant breach of her rights to privacy. Derrick Campbell, commissioner for the IPCC, stated that he finds it “difficult to understand why police officers think they have the right to strip a young woman of all her clothes, leaving her naked for half an hour and then expose her to being filmed.”
Stand by the IPCC and call for an investigation into this disturbing incident. Demand that the police sergeant on duty, as well as the officers involved face charges of severe misconduct for not following the outlined rules in regards to conducting a strip search on this woman, and therefore help ensure that such mistreatment does not occur again.
Dear Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe,
The recent report of a young woman who was subjected to an unwarranted strip search at a Chelsea police station is extremely alarming. The report alleges that officers breached many rules of conduct in regards to performing the strip search, including the rule that all officers must be of the same gender as the person being searched. In addition, the woman was searched without adequate justification, the search was not recorded, and the woman was left naked in a cell for 30 minutes while being broadcast on CCTV.
These offenses are not only distressing to the woman involved, but offer a disturbing insight into officer conduct at this particular station. Surely, if this could happen to one woman suspected of “being on drugs,” it could easily happen to a multitude of other people who are arrested for similar reasons.
I strongly urge you to investigate this incident, and to punish the sergeant on duty as well as the officers involved in the illegal strip search of this young woman. No one, regardless of why they are arrested, should be subjected to this type of treatment. I demand that the officers involved be charged and convicted of mistreatment and misconduct.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Adam Jones via Wikimedia Commons