Schoolgirl given traumatic strip search by Met who knew she was on her period

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Officers from the Metropolitan Police strip searched a black schoolgirl despite knowing she was on her period.

According to a new safeguarding report, the "traumatic" incident took place at the 15-year-old's school in Hackney, London, without another adult present.

The officers had wrongly suspected the girl of carrying cannabis.

Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review concluded that racism "likely" was a contributing factor to the unjustified incident, which took place at the end of 2020.

It was said to have a "profound" impact on the girl (Child Q) as well as "obvious and ongoing" repercussions, with her family saying she went from a "happy-go-lucky girl" to a "timid recluse".

Child Q now reportedly self harms and needs therapy.

The incident occurred after teachers called police to the school, saying that she smelt of cannabis and suspecting she had drugs on her.

Two female officers then led her to a medical room and strip searched her, asking her to take off her sanitary towel all while a teacher waited outside.

After the Met officers found no drugs Child Q was sent home where she told her mum about the ordeal.

The victim said in a statement to the review: "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.

"I need to know that the people who have done this to me can’t do it to anyone else ever again, in fact so no one else can do this to any other child in their care."

Her family think that the incident was racially motivated, with the report agreeing that her experiences were "unlikely to have been the same" if she wasn't black.

"Adultification bias", that is adults viewing black kids as more "streetwise" and therefore older, was deemed a highly likely factor.

Scotland Yard have apologised for the incident. Detective Superintendent Dan Rutland said: "We recognise that the findings of the safeguarding review reflect 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."

Investigations by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into the conduct of the police officers remain ongoing.

Councillor Anntoinette Bramble said she was "appalled", adding: "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."

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  • Cannabis
  • Drugs
  • MET Police
  • Police
  • Students

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