Child Q staff were not aware strip search had taken place, school says | Schools

The school in which a 15-year-old black girl experienced a traumatic strip search by police officers has confirmed it was not aware that the search had taken place, and that no staff members had been present.

A statement by the Hackney school’s governing board said that “while the school was not aware that a strip search was taking place, we wholly accept that the child should not have been left in the situation that she was”.

The board added that because of this, the school had “offered a full and formal apology to Child Q and her family, and continue to work with them to provide what support we can”.

The statement also said “changes were made immediately after the incident and continued to be made”, saying the makeup and leadership of the governing board had changed and how the school engaged with the police “has completely evolved”.

This came after the Metropolitan police admitted that the school “probably should not have called us and we should probably have understood very quickly that we had no role to play there”.

The school said it would not be commenting on the employment status of individuals, including the teachers involved in the incident and staff who had called the police officers.

The statement comes after Philip Glanville, the mayor of Hackney, had called for the head teacher of the school to resign, saying that it was clear that “school leadership has lost the confidence of the school, myself and the community”.

The schoolgirl was subjected to the search in December 2020 after having been wrongly accused of possessing cannabis. She has been traumatised and requires therapy after having had to exposure intimate body parts during the search, which happened in the knowledge she was menstruating. Her parents were not informed by the school or by the officers.

Legal proceedings on behalf of the child have been launched against the school and the Met, with her mother saying that the family also hoped an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation would mean the officers involved were “individually held to account and face real consequences for what they have done ”.

A safeguarding report into the incident, which was published last week, said that “racism was likely to have been an influencing factor in the decision to undertake a strip search”.

At a community meeting in Hackney on Wednesday evening, hosted by Hackney’s Basic Unit commander, Marcus Barnett, a police officer admitted that the Met had a problem with officers viewing inside London children as “adults”, adding that what had happened to Child Q would probably not have happened to a child living in the Cotswolds, as an example.

“I think we view inner London kids as adults, the issue we have in policing at the moment is that we view kids and we believe that kids in London are more resilient than they are,” said Detective Superintendent Dan Rutland, who was also on the panel.

Hundreds of people, including Labor MP Diane Abbott, attended a demonstration last Friday outside Stoke Newington police station in north-east London in support of Child Q. Chants of “Racist cops, out of schools” were heard while signs reading “We say no to police in schools ”and“ No to racist police ”were held aloft.

In a statement issued by her lawyers, the girl said that after everything she had been through: “I know I am not alone”.

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