The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is calling for a substantial review of policing powers under the laws relating to the strip searches of children, to improve safeguarding and prioritise the welfare of minors, following the investigation into the strip search of a 15 year old Black girl in a school in Hackney.
There are a number of learning recommendations the IOPC is making to the Home Office, National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, to review and make changes to national guidance, policy and training relating to searches involving the exposure of intimate body parts.
The recommendations follow independent investigations into multiple incidents where children have been strip searched by the Metropolitan Police Service, including the search involving the exposure of intimate body parts of a 15-year-old Black girl – known as Child Q – at a school in Hackney, in 2020.
The investigation into the ‘strip search’ of Child Q, began in May 2021 after the Met referred complaints to the IOPC, made on behalf of the child and the school, was recently completed. Four police officers will face disciplinary proceedings for their actions and conduct during the incident.
The search of Child Q occurred on 3 December 2020 after police were called to the school following suspicions by staff that Child Q was in possession of cannabis. This followed a search by staff of her bag and outer clothing where no drugs were found.
Following the conclusion of the IOPC investigation, it determined that three officers should face a gross misconduct hearing for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour relating to duties and responsibilities, conduct, and equality and diversity.
Some of the allegations the three police officers face are that:
- the decision to undertake the search was inappropriate
- there was no consultation with a supervisor to obtain authorisation before carrying out the search
- here was no appropriate adult present during the search
- Child Q was discriminated against by officers because of her race and sex
A fourth officer, a police constable will face a disciplinary meeting relating to there being no appropriate adult present during the search. They will also undergo the reflective practice review process to consider further learning opportunities.
Jabeer Butt, Race Equality Foundation Chief Exec said:
“It’s right that the IOPC concluded that the police officers in this case should face gross misconduct proceedings for the decision to strip search Child Q. But it shouldn’t have taken over two years to reach this stage and further still to conclude disciplinary proceedings.”
The IOPC has investigated a total of five cases involving the strip search of children following referrals by the Met. All but one of the investigations has now concluded.
Notes to editors
1. About the Race Equality Foundation
The Race Equality Foundation is a national charity tackling racial inequality across public services to improve the lives of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Its areas of work cover criminal justice, health and care, housing, children and families, employment, communities and more.
2. Press contact:
Eva Morrison, Communications and Influencing Manager:
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