An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the actions of a Metropolitan Police officer during a strip search conducted at a London custody suite has led to improved training for officers being adopted nationally.
The investigation highlighted existing ambiguity within the police guidance relating to strip searches and intimate searches.
A recommendation was made to the College of Policing that clearer guidance be published on what parts of the anatomy can be physically touched during a strip search and during an intimate search.
This recommendation was adopted.
The Metropolitan Police also adopted a recommendation made following the investigation to include specific training to all recruits on the different types of search that can be undertaken by officers.
PC Lesley Wade, serving with the Metropolitan Police in Lambeth was yesterday, April 24, found to have failed to follow correct procedures when she led a strip search of a women being held in custody in Brixton on 11 May 2015.
She was found to have touched the woman’s genitals during the search, which she was not authorised to do as part of a strip search.
The IPCC investigation into the incident was completed in September 2015 and the IPCC directed the Metropolitan Police to hold a misconduct hearing.
The misconduct hearing found PC Wade committed gross misconduct in recklessly failing to adhere to accepted police procedure. She was issued a final written warning
IPCC Associate Commissioner Tom Milsom, said: “The capacity to strip search and conduct intimate searches of those in police custody is one of the most intrusive and sensitive powers the police hold. It is vital officers are correctly trained to utilise those powers. Both the Metropolitan Police and the College of Policing have responded positively to the recommendations made by the IPCC following this investigation.
“The changes that have been incorporated at national level and within the Metropolitan Police will help to ensure officers are fully aware of how to appropriately conduct searches of detainees in custody.”