Searching pupils and confiscation

Updated guidance on searching pupils and confiscation came into effect in September, with more emphasis placed on safeguarding. Know what's changed and understand the rules on when you can search pupils and what process you should follow.

Last reviewed on 25 November 2022
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School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 3747
  1. What are the changes from 1 September 2022?
  2. Prioritise safeguarding 
  3. Make sure your behaviour policy is clear on how you'll conduct searches
  4. Who can carry out a search and when
  5. What you can search for
  6. How to carry out a search
  7. Only police can conduct a strip search
  8. How to record searches
  9. What you can confiscate
  10. Searching and confiscating electronic devices
  11. You can require pupils to be screened

What are the changes from 1 September 2022?

The DfE has reviewed and updated its guidance on searching, screening and confiscation.  

This comes after the publication of the Safeguarding Practice Review report on the case of Child Q, where a pupil was strip-searched without parental consent at school. The Safeguarding Practice Review highlighted the need to put safeguarding at the centre of your school's approach to handling searches.

A change in approach on which staff members can search pupils (read more about this in the section 'Make sure your behaviour policy is clear on how you'll conduct searches')  That you should record certain searches in your school’s safeguarding system (the old guidance said there's no legal requirement to record) New guidance on what you should do before, during and after a search New guidance on strip searches and supporting the pupil afterwards That where possible, you should