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16th Mar 2022

Black schoolgirl strip searched by Met Police in traumatic ordeal

A report determined that racism was a likely factor in the humiliating ordeal.

Scotland Yard has issued an apology after a 15-year-old girl was subject to a “traumatic” strip search without any adults present.

As Metro reports, the girl, who is referred to as Child Q, was wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis, when officers strip searched her at her school in Hackney, London in 2020.

A safeguarding report determined that racism was a “likely’ and “influencing” factor in the ordeal.

Officers arrived at the school after being alerted by a staff member who was concerned after smelling drugs among the students. They then took Child Q to a medical room where she was strip searched by two female Met officers. No other staff members were present in the room.

During the search, her private parts were exposed and she was asked to remove her sanitary towel. No drugs were found in the search and she was subsequently taken home in a taxi.

Her family have spoken about the impact the ordeal has had on Child Q. They said that she had previously been a “happy-go-lucky” girl, and now she rarely speaks and self-harms.

A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review said that it is unlikely that Child Q would have been treated this way if she wasn’t Black. It also said that “adultification” was likely a factor, which occurs when adults’ racism causes them to treat Black children like adults.

The report read: “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 her own words, Child Q said that she now cannot go a day without wanting to “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 getting past this exam season.”

Detective Superintendent Dan Rutland has said that the incident should never have happened and apologised to the child, her family and community on behalf of the Met Police.