Child Q case of black schoolgirl, 15, being strip-searched 'should horrify us all'

27 March 2022, 00:05

A Government adviser on violence against women said the strip-searching of a 15-year-old black schoolgirl should "horrify us all".
A Government adviser on violence against women said the strip-searching of a 15-year-old black schoolgirl should "horrify us all". Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The case of a 15-year-old black schoolgirl - known as Child Q - being strip-searched in the middle of an exam should "horrify us all", a government advisor has said.

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The teenager, who was put through the invasive strip-search without another adult present and in the knowledge that she was on her period, had been wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis, a safeguarding report said.

It found the search was unjustified and racism was "likely" to have been a factor in the search.

Nimco Ali, chief executive of the Five Foundation and an adviser on violence against women and girls to the Home Office, said that the case "should be something we shouldn't be able to tolerate in this country".

Read more: Revealed: Most children strip-searched by Met come from ethnic backgrounds

Read more: Hackney school apologises after black girl, 15, strip-searched

Speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Ms Ali said: "I know it's an ongoing case and it's something that should horrify us all.

"And I think the idea of a child being stripped searched, be they female or male, should be something that we shouldn't be able to tolerate in this country.

Asked about the safeguarding report's conclusion that racism was a factor, Ms Ali said: "This country is one of the most tolerant countries in Europe but is there more for us to do? Yes, there is."

It comes after LBC found that most children strip-searched by Met come from ethnic backgrounds.

Out of 5,279 children searched after an arrest in the past three years, around 75 per cent were from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

The data did not cover children who were not arrested but still strip-searched - like Child Q - so it is likely the number in London is even higher.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police defended its policy, known as More Thorough Search where Intimate Parts are exposed (MTIP), in response to the figures.

A spokesperson said: "We work closely with communities in London and understand that stop and search can have a significant and lasting impact on someone, especially an MTIP and strip searches in custody.

"Every search must be lawful, proportionate and necessary and carried out with respect, dignity and empathy.

"While some may question whether any child should be subject to an MTIP or strip search, there are occasions when it is very necessary to prevent harm to children who may be exploited by gangs, County Lines and drug dealers.

"Used appropriately, stop and search powers save lives and are an important tactic to keep Londoners safe, helping us identify criminality and take drugs and dangerous weapons off the streets.

"Officers are highly trained around the use of stop and search. Part of the training is around unbiased decision making, unconscious bias and the impact of the use of these powers on communities.

"That said we do not underestimate the impact that the use of stop and search has on some individuals and that it continues to cause significant concern within some communities."