Updated on March 24, 2022 at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Two of the officers involved in the humiliating strip search of a 15-year-old Black London girl have been removed from their frontline duties, reported BBC News. The officers were responding to a call from teachers who alleged the girl smelled of marijuana. The incident sparked protests calling for the resignation of Hackney Police commander Chief Superintendent Marcus Barnett.
“The officers that have conducted the search have been removed from frontline duties and they are working in another part of this BCU [Basic Command Unit], they are not on the frontline duties,” announced Barnett via BBC. The officers’ change in position was effective March 17.
The incident occurred December 2020 when teachers called police on the girl suspecting she was carrying drugs, per The Guardian. Four officers, two of which were women, came to the school to conduct the search. The girl’s mother was not contacted.
From The Guardian:
“Someone walked into the school, where I was supposed to feel safe, took me away from the people who were supposed to protect me and stripped me naked, while on my period,” the girl said in a statement, adding that she did not know if she would “ever feel normal again”.
The girl was searched as a prisoner would, being made to bend over, spread her legs and buttocks and cough. Her mother added the girl was also not allowed to go to the restroom to change her sanitary napkin, The Guardian reported. Metropolitan police reported the staff had already searched her clothes and bag before the police even arrived.
“Having considered the context of the incident, the views of those engaged in the review and the impact felt by Child Q and her family, racism (whether deliberate or not) was likely to have been an influencing factor in the decision to undertake a strip search,” read the report, via The Guardian.
From The Guardian:
Anntoinette Bramble, Hackney’s deputy mayor and cabinet member for children’s services, and the mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, said: “All aspects of this review have appalled us: the decision by police officers to strip search a child in her school; the lack of challenge by the school toward police; the absence of requirements of police to seek parental consent in the strip search of a child.
Those who carried out the review were in agreement, concluding that racism was likely to have been an “influencing factor” in the strip search, and that the child had been subjected to “adultification” bias – where black and global majority children are held to adult standards, but their white peers are less likely to be.
Following the incident, the family shared the girl has struggled with the trauma leading her to self-harm and require therapy. Her aunt said she used to be a “happy go lucky” girl but is now “timid recluse.”
The girl is suing the Metropolitan Police and her school.