A safeguarding review found that ‘racism (whether deliberate or not) was likely to have been an influencing factor’ in Police actions
The young teen was arrested while on her period after being falsely accused of carrying drugs.
According to a safeguarding investigation, the “traumatic” search by Metropolitan Police officers did take place at the girl’s school without another adult present and in the awareness that she was menstruating.
The strip search should have never happened, it was unjustified, and racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor,” according to the report.
According to the report, its impact on the secondary school student, known as Child Q, was “deep,” with “clear and ongoing” consequences.
She went from being a “happy-go-lucky girl” to a “shy recluse who seldom speaks” who now self-harms and requires therapy, according to family members.
The incident “should never have happened,” according to Scotland Yard.
I need to know that the people who have done this to me can’t do it to anyone else ever again
Following the event at the end of 2020, City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP) performed a Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review, which was published in March.
According to the report, police were called to the school by teachers who were concerned that the teen had drugs in her possession since she reeked of cannabis.
She was escorted to the medical room and strip searched by two female officers.
According to the review, her personal body parts were exposed during the encounter, and she was asked to remove her sanitary towel.
There were no drugs discovered. She was then driven home in a taxi, where she later expressed her dissatisfaction to her mother.
Her family believes the strip search was racially motivated, and according to the study, her experiences would have been “unlikely to have been the same” if she hadn’t been black.
It seems quite likely that “adultification bias,” in which adults perceive black youngsters as older than they are because they are more “streetwise,” was a factor.
It reads: “The disproportionate decision to strip search Child Q is unlikely to have been disconnected from her ethnicity and her background as a child growing up on an estate in Hackney.”
In a prepared statement for the review, the teen said she cannot go a single day “without wanting to scream, shout, cry, or just give up.”
She said: “All the people that allowed this to happen need to be held responsible.” I was held responsible for a smell… but I’m just a child. “
The main thing I need is space and time to understand what has happened to me and exactly how I feel about it, and to get past this exam season. “
She added: “I need to know that the people who have done this to me can’t do it to anyone else ever again. In fact, no one else can do this to any other child in their care.”
Deputy mayor and cabinet member for Hackney Council’s Children’s Services, Councillor Anntoinette Bramble, and Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville, were appalled by the Bill.
In a statement issued, they said: “Child Q was subjected to humiliating, traumatising, and utterly shocking treatment by police officers—actions that were wholly disproportionate to the alleged incident to which they had been called.”
“This is exacerbated by the fact that the strip search was carried out at school – a place where the child had an expectation of safety, security, and care.
Instead, she was let down by those who were meant to protect her. ”
The police must “stop inexcusable behaviours and mindsets in order to properly serve all our diverse communities,” they added.
They’ve called for a progress report on the review’s eight conclusions and 14 recommendations in six to nine months.
Included are requests for the Department of Education to make more specific references to safeguarding in its guidance on searching, screening, and detaining children. In addition, police guidelines on strip searches for children should clearly outline the need for a safeguarding focus.
Following a complaint in May 2021, the Metropolitan Police announced the Independent Office for Police Conduct was looking into it.
Detective Superintendent Dan Rutland of the Met’s Central East Command said: “We recognise that the findings of the safeguarding review reflect that this incident should never have happened.”
It is truly regrettable and, on behalf of the Met Police, I would like to apologise to the child concerned, her family and the wider community. ”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This is a shocking and deeply disturbing case. I am extremely concerned by the findings of this report and no child should ever have to face a situation like this. “
It is entirely right that the incident is being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and I will be following the outcome of that closely.” ”
It is absolutely vital that our police service is able to gain the trust and confidence of all the communities it serves so that every Londoner, regardless of background or postcode, can feel safe, protected and served.”