Watchdog investigating one other Met police strip-search of a kid | Metropolitan police
The police watchdog has confirmed it is investigating the strip search of another child by the Metropolitan police, which is already under scrutiny over two other cases.
Two teenage girls, known as Child Q and Olivia, were strip-searched by officers while they were menstruating in December 2020. Details of the cases prompted outrage and concerns that they had been treated differently because of their ethnicity (Child Q is black and Olivia , not her real name, is of mixed white and black ethnicity).
Asked at the London assembly police and crime committee last week whether there were any other cases, the Met’s acting commissioner, Sir Stephen House, said there was but he could not discuss it.
On Monday the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said: “We can confirm that, following a complaint, we are investigating the strip-search of a child. Due to the sensitivities surrounding this matter, we cannot provide any further information at this time.”
The watchdog declined to disclose the gender or race of the child.
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The Met said the child was arrested this year on suspicion of possession with intent to supply drugs and taken into custody, with their mother also brought in after being contacted by officers.
They said the strip search had been conducted by officers of the same gender but a complaint had been made and the Met was fully cooperating with the IOPC.
The child was charged with two counts of possession of a class A drug with intent to supply.
Olivia, who is 15, was so traumatized after being handcuffed and searched in front of male officers after more than 20 hours in custody, while menstruating, that she tried to kill herself, her mother, Lisa (also not her real name), said .
She told officers that her daughter was autistic, had learning difficulties and had been self-harming, according to an investigation by BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme.
Lisa said Olivia had been arrested after a disagreement with two boys who called the police and at some point was found to be in possession of a blade from a knife, which her lawyer later argued she used to self-harm. Her daughter was acquitted in court of possession of a bladed weapon. Lisa said she believed “racial stereotyping” was a factor in Olivia’s case.
Child Q was strip-searched at her east London school by two female officers in Hackney in December 2020, after being wrongly suspected of carrying drugs. A report by the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership found she had been made to remove her clothing, underwear and a sanitary pad, spread her buttocks and cough. It concluded that racism was “likely” to have been a factor.
More than 13,000 people under the age of 18 have been strip-searched in England and Wales since 2017, data obtained by File on 4 shows.
Separate data showed that two-thirds of children who had been strip-searched by the Met over the past three years were from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
Ch Supt Richard Tucker said: “We appreciate the considerable public interest in and understand the concerns being raised, especially in the context of ‘Child Q’ in Hackney.
“We are engaging with our local community forums and advisory groups and to listen and respond to any specific questions and concerns they have. Strip searches are an authorized policing tactic which are used to protect communities from the weapons and drugs that blight our communities. We absolutely support scrutiny of how we police and all officers understand the importance of accountability.”
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