Three Met Police officers are facing misconduct hearings over their role in the search for Child Q.
Protests erupted after it was revealed the 15-year-old black student was strip-searched while on her period after she was falsely suspected of having cannabis at school in Hackney in December 2020.
Following complaints, the Met voluntarily referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct in May 2021.
Following an independent investigation, the IOPC has found that two officers who carried out the search and a third officer who was also at the school face gross misconduct charges.
The allegations include that they did not follow procedure and that they discriminated against Child Q based on his race and gender.
During the incident, the girl was taken from an exam to the school’s sick room and strip-searched by two Met police officers searching for cannabis, while teachers remained outside.
The girl’s intimate body parts were exposed and she had to remove her sanitary napkin, according to a safety assessment of the incident published in March last year. No drugs were found.
If gross misconduct is proven, the officers can be fired.
Met bosses have been told by the IOPC that they should consider writing formal letters of apology to Child Q and her mother.
While the IOPC calls for a “fundamental review of police powers” in relation to strip searches of children.
Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway, who leads police in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said: “We have made it clear that Child Q’s experience should never have happened and that it is truly regrettable.” While we have publicly apologized, write I also formally address Child Q and her family to apologize for the trauma we have caused her.
“It will now be up to the hearing panel to decide whether the allegations against the three officers have been proven and it is important that we do not prejudge the outcome.
“Since Child Q we have made significant practical improvements, such as: For example, calling for higher levels of authority in the way we conduct strip searches in custody and what we call ‘more thorough searches that expose intimate parts’ outside of custody. We have overused this power and work on the ground and across the Met has significantly reduced our numbers.
“We continue to work hard to listen to what our communities and partners have told us about this incident and the use of search in general. We wish these types of searches weren’t necessary, but unfortunately we know that there are children in London who are being exploited to transport drugs and weapons for others and who are involved in crime.
“We welcome further national conversations on these issues.”
IOPC director Steve Noonan said: “The strip search of Child Q, a 15-year-old girl, at her school in Hackney caused great concern. We have investigated as fully as possible the circumstances in which this child was treated that day.
“We have determined that four officers involved in the incident will face disciplinary action for their role. Ultimately, it will be up to this disciplinary body to decide whether the allegations against her are proven. We will now be liaising with the Met Police regarding disciplinary proceedings. We have kept Child Q representatives and the officers involved informed throughout our investigation.
“Since becoming aware of this incident, following advice from the Met, we have investigated four further incidents where children were strip-searched in custody.
“Any person subjected to a search that exposes intimate body parts is in a vulnerable position and has the right to be treated with respect and courtesy. While strip searches may be necessary for the safety of both subjects and officers, it is important that they are only conducted when absolutely necessary, especially on children.
“As a result of our investigations, we have identified a number of recommendations that we believe are critical to making effective changes to legislation and improving national guidance and training for officers to ensure the safety and welfare of Children are given priority during searches related to child exposure of intimate body parts.
“One of the learning areas we have identified is to ensure officers across England and Wales understand their duties and responsibilities in relation to the role of an appropriate adult during a strip search.”
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/met-police-officers-misconduct-hearings-child-q-strip-search-iopc-hackney-b1106977.html Child F: Three Met police officers face a misconduct hearing for strip-searching a black teenager