Schoolgirl says public support after strip-search ordeal ‘shows I am not alone’

The 15-year-old, also known as Child Q, is taking civil action against the Metropolitan Police and her school.

Jemma Crew
Friday 18 March 2022 15:43
A black teenager strip searched at school by police officers is taking civil action against the Metropolitan Police and her school (Sean Dempsey/PA)
A black teenager strip searched at school by police officers is taking civil action against the Metropolitan Police and her school (Sean Dempsey/PA)

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 drawn outrage from politicians and the public, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan sharing his “dismay and disgust”, and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch calling it an “appalling incident”.

A protest will take place in north-east London on Friday over the revelations, with further planned this weekend across the country to mark the UN Anti-Racism Day on March 21.

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.”

This appalling, shocking case illustrates wider problems in schools and communities about the treatment of black children which unfortunately is systemic

Florence Cole, solicitor at Just for Kids Law

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 & 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.

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

“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.”

Hackney Cop Watch is organising a protest at Stoke Newington Police Station on Friday afternoon.

Stand up to Racism will also be marching over the weekend in London, Glasgow and Cardiff ahead of the UN Anti-Racism Day.

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