Child Q: Black teenager launches legal action against Met Police after strip search

The case has sparked outrage from politicians, campaigners and members of the wider public

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Friday 18 March 2022 19:05 GMT

A Black teenager strip-searched at school by police officers has thanked members of the public for their support, saying it has shown she is “not alone”.

The 15-year-old schoolgirl, also known as Child Q, is taking civil action against the Metropolitan Police and her school, the law firm Bhatt Murphy said.

She is acting to obtain “cast-iron commitments to ensure this never happens again to any other child”.

The case has sparked outrage from politicians, campaigners and members of the wider public, with London mayor Sadiq Khan sharing his “dismay and disgust” and campaigner Patrick Vernon describing the incident as “state rape”.

A protest organised by Hackney Cop Watch is taking place in north London in response to the abuse, with further demonstrations planned this weekend across the country.

In a statement released through her lawyers, the girl said: “I want to thank the thousands of people across the world of all backgrounds who have offered me support – both publicly and through messages conveyed to my legal team – following everything I’ve been through. I know I am not alone.”

The search, by Metropolitan Police officers, took place in 2020 without another adult present and in the knowledge that she was menstruating, a safeguarding report published in March found.

The Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review, conducted by City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP), concluded the strip search should never have happened, was unjustified and racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor”.

Three police officers have been investigated for misconduct by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is finalising its report.

Scotland Yard has apologised and said the incident “should never have happened”.

The girl is being represented by Chanel Dolcy, a solicitor at Bhatt Murphy specialising in police misconduct and claims against public authorities, and Florence Cole, an education and community care solicitor at Just for Kids Law.

“Child Q has launched civil proceedings against the Metropolitan Police and relevant school,” Ms Dolcy said.

“She seeks to hold both institutions to account including through cast-iron commitments to ensure this never happens again to any other child. The Metropolitan Police has seemed incapable of reform for generations, and it is difficult to say that will ever change.

“Nevertheless, this is a pivotal time for the Metropolitan Police as it awaits the appointment of a new commissioner. Child Q’s family are calling on the home secretary and mayor of London to ensure that only someone willing to declare publicly the persistence of institutional racism and institutional sexism in the Met Police is appointed as the new Met commissioner.

“Child Q’s family expect the new commissioner to include affected communities in designing a plan to rid the force of these diseases and to affect that plan as a priority.”

Ms Cole added: “This is an appalling, shocking case which illustrates wider problems in schools and communities about the treatment of Black children which unfortunately is systemic; and the lack of safeguarding and the failure to recognise the ripple effects of trauma that follows, long after such an ordeal.

“As the government sets guidance for schools, we strongly urge it to learn from the failings in this case.”

During a speech about the government’s new equality strategy in parliament on Thursday, equalities minister Kemi Badenoch referred to the abuse of Child Q as an “appalling incident” but added that outrage over the strip-search shows that the UK “cares about minorities”.

Another demonstration, organised by editor Jacqueline Courtenay, is scheduled for Sunday at 1pm.

“As a concerned mother, I have decided to create a space that is community-minded, parent-focused, family-friendly and allows the community to come together in solidarity with Child Q at quite simply, a very sad and difficult time,” Ms Courtenay told The Independent.

“This march is for anyone who has been as moved as I have been by this case which exudes institutional racism in all its most horrifying forms, exemplifying the sheer lack of regard educators and law enforcement have towards Black children.

“A phenomenon that was a terrible indictment of Britain decades ago – and remains an awful indictment of modern-day Britain which generally sees itself as a non-racist society.”

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