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Birmingham: Woman says she was ‘strip-searched and left in police cell for 16 hours without clothing’

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Sinead Foley, 37, recounts her distressing experience of being strip searched by police in Birmingham in November of the previous year. She is one of several individuals who reached out to Sky News with allegations of abuse while in custody by different police forces, following the network’s investigation into Greater Manchester Police.

Sinead was arrested but later released without charges, yet the memories of her time in custody left her traumatized. She obtained some CCTV footage of her time in the cell through a subject access request, which shows female officers undressing her on the floor.

Expressing her feelings, she said, “It just felt like they could violate me, and they’re allowed to do it. You can see I’m compliant, so there’s no need to be dragging people’s clothes off forcibly. It’s totally inhumane.”

Sky News has not viewed all the footage, and Sinead admits she indicated suicidal thoughts. However, she asserts that she was stripped again and left naked for 16 hours without anti-rip garments. At one point, male officers were present in the cell with her when she was naked, and despite her requests, they left her alone with only a mattress on the floor, which she later used to cover herself. She felt utterly violated by the experience.

West Midlands Police responded to Sky News, stating that no offenses were committed by their officers. They explained that their concern for Sinead’s welfare led them to take steps to ensure her safety while in custody. According to the police, medical attention was arranged, and her clothing was removed due to concerns about her safety and mental health. They offered blankets and water but couldn’t initially provide her with food and replacement clothing due to her aggressive behavior and risk of self-harm.

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Sinead disputes that she was too aggressive to receive clothes and requested further footage of the period she was left naked in the cell. However, the police stated that the requested footage had been automatically deleted in accordance with their data retention policy.

This report comes after Sky News previously exposed allegations of humiliating and unnecessary strip searches conducted by Greater Manchester Police, with one woman claiming she had been raped in custody. The city’s mayor, Andy Burnham, committed to launching an independent investigation in response.

Vera Baird, the former victims commissioner, expressed concerns about women being punished for complaining about the police, as some women may feel they are on trial when raising allegations against the police. The fear of retaliation could deter them from seeking justice.

Numerous Sky News viewers came forward with their own allegations of abuse by other police forces after witnessing images of Zayna Iman being stripped in custody. Several complainants mentioned that their complaints were ignored by the police.

Maggie Oliver, whose foundation supports some of the women interviewed, condemned such abuses of power, stating that police should be accountable and responsive when faced with such serious allegations.

In response to the allegations, Greater Manchester Police found no evidence of officer misconduct but referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for further investigation. The Deputy Chief Constable assured that all allegations would be rigorously and independently reviewed by the IOPC.

Source: news.sky.com

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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