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Shropshire Children's Services Procedures Manual

Searching Children and their Belongings


This procedure applies to children accommodated in Children's Homes and Foster Homes managed by this Authority.


  1. Searching
  2. Notifications
  3. Recording

1. Searching

It may be appropriate to conduct a search of a child or a child's belongings if there is reasonable cause to believe that the child has concealed weapons, illegal drugs, other dangerous items or stolen goods and it is unlikely that the items will not be given up without searching for them.

Preferably, the child should agree to the search; but if agreement is not forthcoming, a search may be undertaken without the child's co-operation.

This may include conducting a search of a child's belongings without informing or consulting the child; but such measures may only be undertaken where it is necessary to do so to prevent Significant Injury or Serious Damage to Property.

If a child is searched, only outer garments may be searched. More intimate searches may only be conducted by the Police or with the authorisation of the Court.

When conducting searches, reasonable precautions must be taken to protect against possible sharp or dangerous objects that may be concealed.

If the child refuses to co-operate and it is suspected that items are concealed which may cause injury or be used to damage property, it may be appropriate to use Physical Intervention or call the Police for assistance.

Please see the following Chapter:

Physical Intervention Procedure

If weapons or any dangerous or offensive items are found, they must be confiscated and passed to a Manager for safekeeping.

2. Notifications

There are different notifications procedures for searches concluded with and without children's co-operation.

2.1 Searches Conducted with Children's Co-operation

Searches undertaken with the child's co-operation, where no force is used, must be notified to the Manager at the first opportunity; the manager will decide whether to inform the relevant social worker.

2.2 Searches Conducted without Children's Co-operation

Searches conducted without the child's co-operation, which means that a level of force has been used, are deemed to be an Incident and must be notified to the Manager and relevant social worker as soon as possible but within 24 hours.

The social worker should decide whether to inform the child's parent(s) and, if so, who should do so.

If the Incident results in any serious damage or the Police are called for assistance, the Designated Manager must be notified.

3. Recording

There are different recording procedures for searches concluded with and without children's co-operation.

3.1 Searches Conducted with Children's Co-operation

These searches should be recorded in the child's Daily Record, with detail provided on a Detail Record and noted in Daily Logs held in Children's Homes.

The details, which must be included in the Detail Record, are:

  1. The time and date of the search;
  2. The reason or suspicions which led to the need to conduct the search;
  3. Who conducted the search and whether the child or others were present;
  4. What was found, and whether items found were retained/confiscated;
  5. If items were retained/confiscated, where they were stored.

All those present including the child must sign the Detail Record, whether or not s/he was present.

3.2 Searches Conducted without Children's Co-operation

Any search conducted without the child's co-operation is deemed to be an Incident, and must be recorded as such and subject to a Management Review.