Children’s services leaders have questioned Home Office plans for the police to make a referral to children’s social care every time they perform an intimate search of a child.

The proposal, included in updated draft guidance to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) codes of practice, has been introduced in response to failings in the case of Child Q in 2020.

The 15-year-old black girl was strip-searched at her London school by police officers while on her period after being wrongly accused of possessing cannabis.

“Unless the child is already known to the local authority, the referral may not meet the threshold for a social work intervention, so the purpose of a referral is unclear and may risk adding to a child and family’s distress,” its consultation response states.