Police Face Discipline Over Strip
Six police officers should face misconduct proceedings after a clubber was strip-searched and left naked in a cell filmed by CCTV cameras...
The 22-year-old woman was searched by one female and four male officers at Chelsea police station in London in March 2011, against regulations that police should be the same sex as those they strip-search.
She was left naked for half an hour in a cell that was covered by CCTV, with the images broadcast to the station's custody desk, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said.
IPCC Commissioner Derrick Campbell said: "This incident caused a great deal of distress to the victim.
"I find 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.
"I am sure, like the complainant, the public will want to understand how this was allowed to happen. I look forward to the misconduct process getting the answers that are needed."
The watchdog said that the woman, who was arrested outside Supperclub in west London, was "intoxicated, distressed and running in and out of a road" when she was arrested.
Officers believed she was on drugs and might have illegal substances hidden in her clothing, the IPCC found.
It said that the police sergeant on duty should face a charge of gross misconduct for failing to make a written record of the strip search or make sure that it was carried out in line with the rules.
Five constables should face misconduct proceedings for breaching the guidelines for searches, while another two should face "management action", an internal measure.
One is accused of potentially discouraging her from getting legal advice by implying that she would have to stay at the police station for longer if she did so.
It is claimed that the other failed to investigate her claim that her drink was spiked at the club.
The woman complained about her treatment to Scotland Yard, which carried out its own investigation, but she was unhappy with the findings and so went to the IPCC.
Scotland Yard said it will hold disciplinary proceedings against the sergeant and the five search officers, but it is reviewing whether the remaining two constables should face management action.
A spokesman said:
"We agree with the recommendations of the IPCC and will be holding a gross misconduct hearing for the sergeant involved in this incident in due course.
"The five officers involved in the search will now face misconduct proceedings and we are still reviewing the recommendations that the remaining two officers should face management action."
The force's original internal investigation into what happened, carried out by a detective inspector, found that the sergeant should face misconduct proceedings and the five officers should face management action.
Both measures are a level below that recommended by the IPCC. Scotland Yard said the case will be discussed with the inspector to assist his decision making in future.