Met officers 'cut underwear off menstruating autistic mixed-race teen during strip search'

24 May 2022, 00:32 | Updated: 24 May 2022, 14:48

The mother of a mixed-race teenager has slammed the Met police for strip searching her teen daughter
The mother of a mixed-race teenager has slammed the Met police for strip searching her teen daughter. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The mother of a mixed-race teenager has slammed the Met police after her daughter was left suicidal after she was strip searched while on her period.

The 15-year-old girl was allegedly handcuffed and had her underwear cut from her in front of male officers during a strip search in December 2020.

The mother told the BBC's File on 4 that her daughter, who has autism and learning difficulties, had been out with friends when they were accused of attempted knife-point robbery.

While in custody, Olivia was discovered to be in possession of a sharpened stick and a small blade for the purposes of self-harming.

Olivia later appeared in court accused of possession of a bladed weapon and was found not guilty after magistrates accepted the items were used for self-harming.

The girl’s mother told the broadcaster: "Not only have they strip searched her, they’ve handcuffed her to do it.

"They’ve pinned her to the floor. Olivia was actually on her period at the time too.

"And they cut off her underwear in front of these grown male officers."

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

The allegations come after a black school girl announced she was suing the Met for strip-searching her.

The school and Metropolitan Police came under fire after a safeguarding report revealed that the black student was taken out of an exam and strip searched by two officers after teachers wrongly accused the girl of carrying cannabis.

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".

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

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.

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

Today, police chiefs said they are "ashamed" of racism within their ranks, as they set out a plan to "secure the confidence of black people".

Vowing that the police service will become an "institutionally anti-racist organisation", leaders said the need for change is "evident" as it "lags behind almost every part of the public service as an employer of choice for black people".

They branded the fact that only two black officers in the history of the police had reached the rank of chief constable or assistant commissioner a "failure".

In a foreword to the Police Race Action Plan, head of professional body the College of Policing Chief Constable Andy Marsh and West Midlands Police Chief Constable Sir Dave Thompson, the senior officer responsible for the project, said the murder of George Floyd in America provided a "catalyst for the expression of deep concerns about the social injustice experienced by black people", and policing has a "difficult history in its relationships with black communities".

They said: "We accept that policing still contains racism, discrimination and bias. We are ashamed of those truths, we apologise for them and we are determined to change them.

"We have much to do to secure the confidence of black people, including our own staff, and improve their experience of policing - and we will. We will be held to account and we welcome scrutiny.

"We hope that, in the future, we will be seen as the institutionally anti-racist organisation we want to be, because we took action and delivered on our promise to change."

The 57-page plan intends to make the police service "anti-racist", one which condemns "overt racist behaviour" and wants officers to be "trusted by black people".

Proposed measures include:

- Mandatory training for officers, staff and volunteers on the history of the policing of black people and the ongoing impact of disproportionality.

- Chief constables identifying and addressing disproportionality in the use of force, Tasers and stop and search - particularly involving drugs or checks on children.

- Forces in England and Wales being tasked with explaining policies or practices where racial disparity exists and, when this cannot be explained, being expected to change them.

- Making workforces more representative by trying to recruit, keep and promote more black staff.

- Increased involvement of black community groups in the oversight of policing, as well as plans to improve the service to black victims of crime.