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Child Q: an investigation has been launched against the Met police officers who strip-searched Black schoolgirl

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Child Q: hundreds of protestors demand justice for 15-year-old Black girl strip-searched by Met Police

The event sparked widespread outrage and calls to remove all police presence in schools, but the prosecution of the officers has not been guaranteed.

Updated 15 June: Four Metropolitan police officers are currently being investigated after an unjust strip-search was carried out on a 15-year-old Black schoolgirl known as Child Q.

The teenager was subjected to the strip-search by two female officers after teachers called the police and wrongly suspected her of carrying drugs, a child safeguarding review found.

The report, which was published in March, said the “traumatic” search took place at the girl’s school in Hackney, east London, without an appropriate adult present and has caused widespread protest and uproar across social media as people called for answers.

In the wake of the report, two of the five officers who were involved in the search were removed from frontline duties and the constables have since been served with gross misconduct notices in connection with the incident, which happened in December 2020.

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“Four constables have now been advised that they are being investigated for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour at the level of gross misconduct,” the Independent Office for Police Conduct said in a statement.

It added that this “does not necessarily mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow”.

However, the CEO of charity Sistah Space, Ngozi Fulani, insisted back in March that “everybody involved” should face charges.

“This is child abuse, this is sexual assault,” she told the BBC at the time. “There are so many things wrapped up in this and they’re not going to put this in a tidy box and make it go away.”

Following the news, the group wrote on Twitter: “Months AFTER we said this we’re finally heard, why did the obvious take so long?”

The headteacher of the school where the search took place stepped down in April due to ill health. 

Philip Glanville, the mayor of Hackney, had earlier called for the headteacher to resign, saying it was clear that “school leadership has lost the confidence of the school, myself and the community”.

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Sharing her experiences in a written account, Child Q said she can’t go a single day “without wanting to scream, shout, cry or just give up”.

“Someone walked into the school, where I was supposed to feel safe, took me away from the people who were supposed to protect me and stripped me naked, while on my period,” she said.

“I feel like I’m locked in a box, and no one can see or cares that I just want to go back to feeling safe again, my box is collapsing around me, and no one wants to help. I don’t know if I’m going to feel normal again. I don’t know how long it will take to repair my box. But I do know this can’t happen to anyone, ever again.” 

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In response to the report, protesters gathered on 20 March and marched from Stoke Newington Police Station to Hackney Town Hall while chanting “power to black girl Child Q” and “safe schools”, while carrying placards with messages including “protect black kids” and “shame on you”.

Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington was in attendance where she was among the many speakers who addressed the crowd.

Protesters demand justice for Child Q outside Stoke Newington Police station
Protesters demand justice for Child Q outside Stoke Newington Police station

In response to the protests, the commander of the Met’s Basic Unit in Hackney, Marcus Barnett, admitted that the Met has a problem with officers viewing inner London children as “adults”, adding that what happened to Child Q would probably not have happened to a child living in the Cotswolds, as an example.

Chanel Dolcy, a solicitor at Bhatt Murphy, which is representing the family in proceedings against the police, said Child Q had launched civil proceedings against the force and her school seeking to hold both institutions to account “to ensure this never happens again to any other child”.

“The Metropolitan police has seemed incapable of reform for generations, and it is difficult to say it will ever change,” she added.

It follows after a protest took place on 18 March, where demonstrators chanted “no justice, no peace, abolish the police” and “racist cops, out of schools” at the police station.

Speakers included Ngozi Fulani, founder of Sistah Space and a spokesperson from activist group Forever Family, Denise Henry, co-founder of National Education Union Black Educators Network, and Chañtelle Lunt, a former Black police officer and a founder of Merseyside BLM Alliance, addressed the crowds.

Politicians including local MP Diane Abbott and Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, were also in attendance.

Labour MP for Hackney Diane Abbott attends the protest for Child Q
Labour MP for Hackney Diane Abbott attends the protest for Child Q

A solidarity rally has also been organised for Sunday 20 March, with campaigner Patrick Vernon tweeting: “Solidarity rally @ Hackney Town Hall on Sunday 20 March 2022 from 2pm.

“Join us to hear moving testimonies and speeches from community organisers in support of Child Q. Let’s show some love.”

It comes after numerous public figures took to social media to condemn the Met Police and actions Black girls are subjected to in schools while highlighting the misogynoir at the centre of it.

Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu called out the inequality, saying that the British media would be “flooded” with coverage if Child Q had been white. “But she’s Black so racism/misogynoir take a back seat. ALWAYS,” she tweeted.

Hackney MP Diane Abbott said: “The indignities that Child Q was subjected to are not an aberration, they’re part of a bigger picture of institutional racism and discrimination within policing.

“I’m appalled this happened in Hackney and I’ve written to the Borough Commander demanding an urgent meeting.”

“My heart breaks for Child Q and her family,” said actor Nathalie Emmanuel. “Shame on her school and the @metpoliceuk who failed her, abused her and traumatised her. Wishing healing for her and FULL accountability of every adult responsible for this trauma inflicted upon her.”

“The ‘adultification’ of Black children means they are often denied the care or protections we have in place for children… and their assumed guilt justifies abusive treatment by those who are supposed to protect them.”

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