Intimate Samples and Intimate Searches

Section 62 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 (and the equivalent statute in Scotland) provides that intimate samples can only be taken from an individual if authorized by a police inspector (or higher ranking police officer) and if consent is obtained. For this purpose the age of consent is 17 (not 16) years. For those between 14 and 17 years of age, the consent of both the detainee and the parent or guardian is required, and for those younger than 14 years of age, only the consent of the parent or guardian is statutorily required.

Section 55 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (and an equivalent provision in Scotland) provides that an intimate search of an individual may be conducted on the authority of a police officer of at least the rank of inspector only if there are grounds for suspecting that an individual is hiding on himself or herself either an object that might be used to cause physical injury while he is detained or a class A controlled drug. A doctor called on to conduct an intimate search will be wise to consider carefully whether a detainee is likely to be able to give a free and voluntary consent in such circumstances; an intimate search should not be conducted unless the doctor is thoroughly satisfied that the individual has given valid consent. An intimate search may, exceptionally, be conducted by a doctor if he or she believes it necessary to remove a concealed object that is an immediate danger to the life or personal safety of those responsible for the detainee's supervision.

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