Police officers who strip-searched black schoolgirl should face gross misconduct - Sadiq Khan

The mayor of London has called for sanctions imposed by a police watchdog on the cops involved to be increased from misconduct to gross misconduct

Police officers who strip searched a 15-year-old black schoolgirl who was on her period should have their actions treated as gross misconduct, Sadiq Khan has said.

The mayor of London has written a letter to the police watchdog calling for sanctions imposed on the cops involved to be increased from misconduct to gross misconduct, our sister title LondonWorld can reveal.

Horrific details of the “degrading” search of the teenager - who was removed from a mock exam, made to remove her sanitary pad, and bend over - emerged in a safeguarding report.

Teachers at her school in Hackney in December 2020 called the police after believing the girl smelled of cannabis - after a search of her bag, coat and shoes revealed no drugs present.

London mayor Sadiq Khan. Photo: Getty

The search took place without an appropriate adult present, with teachers outside the room.

Officers were aware the girl, who was not permitted to use the bathroom, was menstruating.

It comes just weeks after former Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick admitted more “embarrassing - or disgusting” police scandals would emerge in a BBC interview.

The report, published by the City and Hackney Safeguarding Board heard from Child Q and her relatives that she “can’t go a single day without wanting to scream, shout, cry or just give up”, was often found “screaming in her sleep”, and was “self-harming, traumatised and requires therapy”.

Her aunt said: “She is now a shell of the bubbly child she was before this incident.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has confirmed it was looking into the incident, and three officers had been served notices of misconduct investigations.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick makes a statement outside of the Old Bailey, following the sentencing of Wayne Couzens (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking today (Thursday, March 17), Mr Khan said: “I am disgusted and angered by the account of what a 15-year-old black schoolgirl from Hackney was subjected to.

“The investigation by the board found racism likely played a part in the decision to conduct the search, which has understandably been extremely traumatic for the child and her family.

“Now we have this new report I have written to the IOPC asking them to look at it as a case of gross misconduct by the officers involved.”

In the letter to the IOPC director general, Michael Lockwood, Mr Khan wrote: “I read the report with dismay and disgust.

“I am writing to urge you to consider in detail the report by the Local Safeguarding Practice Review, particularly its finding that racism had a role in the decision to conduct the search.

“I understand that in line with statutory guidance, allegations of discrimination would normally be considered at the level of gross misconduct rather than misconduct.

“I’d be grateful if you would confirm that this case will be considered as one of gross misconduct.”

He said the case had caused “widespread concern amongst the public” and that incidents such as Child Q’s experience “foster distrust” and “hamper any efforts to police by consent”.

And he asked the director general to keep him “updated on this case as a matter of priority”.

The mayor, who recently announced he had lost confidence in Met commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, sparking her high-profile exit from the force, said: “Confidence in our police is almost at an all time low.

“I am determined that the next commissioner must have a plan to tackle the serious cultural issues within the Met Police and regain the trust of Londoners.”

However, the mayor has also faced criticism today for his previous suggestion that police should be stationed in schools reopening post-lockdown, to avoid a surge in violent crime.

Mandu Reid, leader of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP), wrote on Twitter: “Like so many black women I’m still reeling from learning what happened to Child Q.

“And then I remembered this. I can’t say loudly or clearly enough: NO!

“Sadiq Khan - the police have no place in our schools. Especially this version of the police… we cannot trust them.”

This article was originally published on our sister title, LondonWorld

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