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Hackney schoolgirl strip-searched by police breaks silence

‘Child Q’ was wrongly accused of having drugs and subjected to a humiliating search while on her period. Her family is suing police and her school

Anita Mureithi
18 March 2022, 5.21pm
The police watchdog faces calls to hold the officers involved in this case to account
Finnbarr Webster / Alamy Stock Photo

The 15-year-old girl strip-searched by police in north London has thanked everyone who has offered her support since her ordeal was made public.

In a press statement released today, the teenager referred to as ‘Child Q’ and her family put pressure on the police watchdog to hold the officers to account for what they had done.

“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,” she said. “I know I am not alone.”

The strip search has not only left the 15-year-old girl traumatised, but has triggered nationwide conversations about ‘adultification’ – the racist bias that sees adults hold Black children to more ‘grown-up’ standards of responsibility and resilience than their white peers.

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Child Q’s mother said today: “We now look to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to make sure there is an effective investigation into the officers involved so they are individually held to account and face real consequences for what they have done.

“We expect the school to reflect on the findings of the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership report and take necessary action against all members of staff involved.”

Chanel Dolcy of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors is representing Child Q and her mother in suing the police. In today’s statement, she confirmed plans to hold the institutions involved to account “through cast iron commitments to ensure this never happens again to any other child”.

She added: “The Metropolitan Police has seemed incapable of reform for generations, and it is difficult to say that will ever change.”

As the Met awaits the appointment of a new commissioner, Dolcy said this is a “pivotal time”.

“The 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 Metropolitan Police is appointed.

“The family expects 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.”

Child Q is also suing her school for breaching her rights under education law. Florence Cole, an education and community care solicitor at Just for Kids Law, said: “No child should be subjected to such an ordeal, and it is hoped that the school will reflect and consider the detrimental effects and negative impact that adultification, disproportionate sanctioning and the over policing of Black children has on their emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing, particularly in light of the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership report and its findings.”

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