Strip search


Strip search

A strip search is the stripping (removal of clothing, search of person and/or personal effects) of a person to check for weapons or other contraband.

Legality of strip searches

In North America, civil lawsuits, as well as criminal code changes against strip searches have usually been successful when a person is strip-searched by someone of the opposite sex, especially in cases where a woman has been strip-searched by a male guard or guards. The more disputed legal cases have often involved the presence of persons of the other gender during a strip search. Some of these cases have been less successful because of the legal technicality of who was actually performing the strip search, i.e. if multiple guards are present, the search is often (legally) said to be being performed by the person or persons giving the orders or instructions to the person or persons being searched.

Another legal issue is that of blanket strip searches, such as in jails where arrestees are routinely strip-searched prior to having been found guilty of any crime in a court of law. This can even happen to high profile celebrities. Courts have often held that blanket strip searches are acceptable only for persons found guilty of a crime. For arrestees pending trial, there must be a reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is in possession of weapons or other contraband before a strip search can be conducted. The same often holds true for other situations such as airport security personnel and customs officers, but the dispute often hinges on what constitutes reasonable suspicion.

Incidental strip searches

In order to bypass the legal reasonable suspicion requirement, and because strip searches can be humiliating, the search often made less overt, as part of an intake process, that includes a mandatory shower. For example, many homeless shelters require a mandatory shower (supervised) prior to entry. Most prisons also include a mandatory shower along with a change of clothes. The shower serves to make the strip search less blatant as well as providing the additional benefit of removing contamination (in addition to removing weapons or other contraband). Many shelters have a policy that upon check in all clothing should be collected from clients and cleaned, along with requiring each client to have a mandatory shower to "discreetly" check for weapons or other contraband. Thus bathing, which is a justifiable necessity, often allows a similar outcome to a strip search with less legal liability, being less actionable when applied to everyone entering a facility, as well as being less offensive to clients than requiring them to undergo what is overtly presented as a strip search.

The courts have often held that requiring a person to have a shower as a condition of entry into a space (such as a prison, shelter, or the like) does not, in itself, constitute a strip search, even if the shower and surrounding space are so constructed as to afford visibility of the unclothed body by guards during the showering process.

Hospitals often also have a mandatory shower, during lockdown, when mass decontamination is called for. Paul Rega, M.D., FACEP has specifically identified mass decontamination as providing the added benefit of checking for weapons or other contraband, as well as searching for clues among the clothes of persons found at a terrorist attack crime scene where it is recognized that the perpetrator(s) could be among the persons detained for decontamination.

Partial strip searches

Partial strip searches are common at airports, for airport security, which often consists of:
*removal of shoes (and sometimes also of socks);
*removal of coat and jacket;
*removal of belt;
*untucking of shirt.

If there is reason to suspect hidden objects, the person is then taken to a private room, which consists of:
*removal of shirt
*removal of pants
*removal of bra or panties (boxers and/or undershirts for men)

Electronic strip searches

Backscatter X-ray machines, T-ray scans, and other modern technology provide the ability to see through clothing, to achieve a similar result to an actual strip search. This is known as electronic body searches.

ee also

* Body cavity search
* Undress code
* Strip Search Prank Call Scam


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • strip-search — strip searches, strip searching, strip searched also strip search VERB: usu passive If a person is strip searched, someone such as a police officer makes them take off all their clothes and searches them, usually to see if they are carrying drugs …   English dictionary

  • strip-search — [strip′sʉrch΄] vt. to search (a person) by requiring removal of the clothes n. such a search: Also strip search …   English World dictionary

  • strip–search — vt: to conduct a strip search of Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • strip search — see search Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • strip search — n a process in which you have to remove your clothes so that your body can be checked, usually for hidden drugs >strip search v [T] …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • strip-search — strip ,search verb transitive to check whether someone is hiding drugs or other illegal articles by making them take off their clothes ╾ strip ,search noun count …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • strip search — strip′ search n. cvb an act or instance of strip searching …   From formal English to slang

  • strip-search — strip′ search v. t. cvb to search (a suspect who has been required to remove all clothing) esp. for concealed weapons, contraband, or evidence of drug abuse • Etymology: 1945–50 …   From formal English to slang

  • strip-search — ► VERB ▪ search (someone) for concealed drugs, weapons, or other items, by stripping off their clothes …   English terms dictionary

  • strip-search — UK / US verb [transitive] Word forms strip search : present tense I/you/we/they strip search he/she/it strip searches present participle strip searching past tense strip searched past participle strip searched to check whether someone is hiding… …   English dictionary


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