Dozens of children in Wiltshire have been strip-searched by police officers, it has been revealed.

Thousands of under-18s have been strip-searched across England and Wales in new research by The Children's Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel De Souza.

Her research found that Wiltshire Police carried out 28 strip-searches of children aged between eight and 17 from 2018 to mid-2022.

When the Adver posed these statistics to Wiltshire Police, the force explained how this type of procedure should be carried out.

A Wiltshire Police spokesperson said: “Search of a juvenile that would expose intimate parts require the searching officer to consult with a supervisor prior to conducting that search when practicable.

“The search should be conducted in the presence of an appropriate adult unless there is an immediate risk of harm.

“Searches of this nature should always take place in private, away from public view and never in a police vehicle."

Strip-searches are viewed as child abuse by many others outside of the organisation however with several people pointing to the dehumanising aspect of the process.

INQUEST is a charity founded in the UK in 1981 that fights for transformative systemic change which the Adver contacted for an insight into the experience of these children.

Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST, said: “This is state-sanctioned child abuse operating outside the law.

“Strip-searches are deeply harmful and dehumanising and inflict fear and humiliation.

“The extent of searches on black children reveals once again how racism is institutionalised in police culture, policy, and practice. This abusive and abhorrent practice must end.”

The police insist that this type of searching is still needed in today’s policing with the method used to detect drug trading.

“There are many legitimate reasons why a strip search may be carried out,” added the Wiltshire Police spokesperson.

“Most commonly, they are done where information suggests that individuals are concealing drugs to avoid detection or may attempt to ingest drugs to avoid detection.

“Children who are being exploited to sell drugs may go to extreme lengths to avoid detection due to fear of repercussions not just from the authorities but the criminal gangs exploiting them.

Ms De Souza described the practice as "intrusive and potentially traumatic" to children involved, adding it should be subject to greater safeguards and scrutiny.

The investigation comes after a 15-year-old girl from East London known as 'Child Q' was strip-searched by the Met Police in 2020 without another adult present.

The incident sparked protests when it came to light in 2022.