Dianne Abbott has demanded an “urgent meeting” with Hackney police to address institutional racism and bias after a 15-year-old Black girl was strip searched at school.
The schoolgirl was pulled out of an exam after her teachers called the police to investigate what they said was the smell of cannabis on her clothing. She was then taken by two female officers to be strip searched in the school’s medical room, was told to remove the sanitary towel she was wearing due to being on her period, and had her intimate parts exposed.
No other adult was present and her parents were not contacted. No cannabis was found.
A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review into the 2020 incident was published this week by the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP). In it the girl, referred to as child Q, is described by her aunt as no longer a “top of the class” child, but “a shell of her former bubbly self” who is “now self-harming and requires therapy”.
Her family strongly believe the strip search was a racist incident, and the review found that her experiences are “unlikely to have been the same” had she not been Black.
It also said it was likely that “adultification bias” was a factor in police actions – where Black children are perceived as older than they are, with people in positions of power being less protective and more punitive towards them.