HC Deb 14 May 1998 vol 312 c167W
Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 24 February 1998,Official Report, column 181, if he will make a statement on his discussions with ACPO and the BMA on the problem of police surgeons refusing to carry out intimate body searches on those suspected of carrying drugs. [41884]

Mr. Michael

On 17 April representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Drugs Committee, the British Medical Association, the Association of Police Surgeons and the Medical Defence Union met Home Office officials to discuss the difficulties encountered by some police forces in getting doctors to carry out intimate body searches for concealed drugs. It emerged that information and understanding on all sides needs to be improved: the information from police forces about the number of times they would like an intimate search to be carried out but encounter problems is unreliable; but also the understanding of many police surgeons about the full legal and ethical issues involved is unclear. A number of helpful action points aimed at taking matters forward were agreed at the meeting. These include ACPO asking police forces to review their statistics of intimate searches to provide fuller information and the medical bodies reviewing their current guidance and reconsidering the ethical issues. A further meeting to take stock of progress is planned for the autumn.