Police have strip searched children in Hertfordshire more than 300 times over the past four years, figures show. 

The youngest child was 13 and the oldest was 17, according to a Watford Observer Freedom of Information request.

It comes after a 15-year-old black schoolgirl was strip searched while on her period by two Metropolitan Police officers, without an approved adult present.

The girl, known as Child Q, was falsely suspected of having cannabis on her.

In Hertfordshire, a total of 307 children aged 13 to 17 were searched between March 2018 and April 2022.

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In Hertfordshire there were 58 involving children aged 14 to 17 between 2018 and 2019, which rose to 103 the following year.

Between 2020 and 2021 the figure dropped to 79, but of these seven strip searches were of 13-year-olds.

The figure decreased again between 2021 to 2022 to 67 with one involving a 13-year-old.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Constabulary said its officers are aware of when strip searches are necessary and lawful ensuring searches are conducted in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the Code of Ethics.

They are only undertaken when assessed and authorised by a supervisor, the spokesperson said.

They said: "Strip searches are an important way in which serious harm and criminality can be prevented, helping to keep our communities safe. 

"We know from the items that we find conducting such searches that criminals will hide things such as drugs, weapons, and evidence of their criminality in a way that necessitates a strip search, to help bring them to justice.

"However, it is important to highlight that we recognise the impact that strip searches can have, which is why they need to be carried out lawfully, with dignity and respect to the individuals concerned." 

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