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

18 March 2022, 07:28 | Updated: 18 March 2022, 07:39

Kemi Badenoch made the comments while defending a new strategy in the Commons.
Kemi Badenoch made the comments while defending a new strategy in the Commons. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The outrage over a black girl being strip-searched at school 'shows the UK cares about ethnic minorities', an equalities minister has said.

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Kemi Badenoch was challenged about the schoolgirl - known as Child Q - while unveiling the Government's new Inclusive Britain strategy, which was in response to another controversial report that denied the existence of structural racism.

The "traumatic" search by two officers took place at a Hackney secondary school in 2020 without another adult present and in 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".

Shadow equalities minister Taiwo Owatemi said: "This strategy fails to deliver for Child Q, a 15-year-old black girl from Hackney who faced the most appalling treatment at the hands of the police, with racism very likely to have been an influencing factor."

However, Ms Badenoch replied: "What we do know is that everybody is rightly appalled and outraged by what happened to Child Q.

"That is an example of a country that cares about ethnic minorities, and about children in the system."

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Ms Badenoch described the case as an "appalling incident", adding that she was glad the Met had apologised and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) were investigating the issue.

She told MPs: "We have systems in place to ensure that when things go wrong we correct them.

"What we cannot do is stop any bad thing from happening to anyone in the country at any time.

"That is a bar, a threshold, that is impossible to meet."

The Met's apology to the schoolgirl came after the release of the Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review, which was conducted following the incident at the end of 2020.

The review said police arrived at the school after being called by teachers, who told the review they had been concerned the teenager had drugs in her possession because she smelt of cannabis.

She was taken to the medical room and strip searched by two female officers, while teachers remained outside.

No drugs were found and she was later sent home by taxi before sharing her distress with her mother.