HC Deb 24 February 1998 vol 307 c181W
Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 30 January 1998,Official Report, column 398, what estimate he has made of the number of police surgeons who are refusing to carry out intimate body searches (a) in Cheshire and (b) nationally. [29275]

Mr. Michael

[holding answer 16 February 1998]: I am informed that in Cheshire none of the 17 retained police surgeons will carry out an intimate body search without the consent of the suspect. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Drugs Sub-Committee has recently conducted a national survey of police forces to assess how widespread this situation is. I do not have statistics but I am told that a significant number of forces replied stating that they are experiencing problems of this nature. I am inviting the ACPO Drugs Sub-Committee and the British Medical Association, which has issued guidelines on the subject, to meet Home Office representatives in an attempt to find a solution.

I am glad to say that not all police surgeons take the same view. The latest statistics available show that, of a total of 132 intimate searches carried out in 1996, 128 were carried out by, or in the presence of, a registered medical practitioner or a registered nurse.

When a police surgeon declines to conduct an intimate search, the options are to use any registered medical practitioner or a registered nurse.