'Traumatised' black schoolgirl wrongly strip-searched to sue Met Police

19 March 2022, 18:08

Protests have been held across London in support of Child Q.
Protests have been held across London in support of Child Q. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

A "traumatised" black school girl who was strip-searched by police officers after being wrongly suspected of carrying drugs is to sue the Met Police.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The 15-year-old, referred to as Child Q, is taking civil action against the Metropolitan Police and her school, the law firm Bhatt Murphy said.

She is acting to obtain "cast-iron commitments to ensure this never happens again to any other child".

The shocking case - which saw Child Q searched by two officers at a Hackney secondary school - has caused uproar across the community.

She was searched in 2020 without another adult present and under the knowledge that the girl was menstruating.

A safeguarding review concluded that the strip search was unjustified and racism "was likely to have been an influencing factor".

Read more: Met cops sorry after black school girl 'traumatised' in 'racially motivated' strip search

Read more: Outrage over black girl strip-searched 'shows UK cares about ethnic minorities'

Racism in the police 'a real problem' says Shabnam Chaudhri

In a statement released through her lawyers, the girl said: "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. I know I am not alone."

According to the report, the impact on the secondary school pupil was "profound" and the repercussions "obvious and ongoing".

Family members described her as changing from a "happy-go-lucky girl to a timid recluse that hardly speaks", who now self-harms and needs therapy.

The Metropolitan Police has issued an apology to Child Q, after she was wrongly accused of carrying cannabis.

The case has drawn outrage from politicians and the public, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan sharing his "dismay and disgust", and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch calling it an "appalling incident".

Caller persuaded James O'Brien of role of teachers in strip-search of black girl

Three police officers have been investigated for misconduct by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is finalising its report.

The girl is being represented by Chanel Dolcy, a solicitor at Bhatt Murphy specialising in police misconduct and claims against public authorities, and Florence Cole, an Education and Community Care solicitor at Just for Kids Law.

Ms Dolcy said: "Child Q has launched civil proceedings against the Metropolitan Police and relevant school.

"She seeks to hold both institutions to account including through cast-iron commitments 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 that will ever change.

"Nevertheless, this is a pivotal time for the Metropolitan Police as it awaits the appointment of a new Commissioner.

"Child Q's 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 Met Police is appointed as the new Met Commissioner.

"Child Q's family expect 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."