Police watchdog probes strip-search of a third child by the Met

30 May 2022, 18:02

The Metropolitan Police is being investigated over a third child strip-search case after it faced scrutiny for two other controversial cases.
The Metropolitan Police is being investigated over a third child strip-search case after it faced scrutiny for two other controversial cases. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The Metropolitan Police is being investigated by the police watchdog over the strip-search of a third child.

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The force has come under fire recently for two controversial cases of its officers strip-searching two teenage girls, known as Child Q and Olivia.

Both girls were strip-searched by Metropolitan Police officers while they were menstruating.

Acting Commissioner Sir Stephen House told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee last week that there was a further case he could not discuss.

On Monday the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said: "We can confirm that, following a complaint, we are investigating the strip-search of a child.

"Due to the sensitivities surrounding this matter, we cannot provide any further information at this time."

The Met said it is fully cooperating with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following their announcement of an independent investigation.

The force said the strip-search was conducted by officers of the same gender.

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

Read more: Met cops sorry after black school girl 'traumatised' in 'racially motivated' strip search

The Metropolitan Police is being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The Metropolitan Police is being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). Picture: Alamy

The child was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply drugs earlier this year and taken into custody. Their mother was contacted by officers and brought into custody.

The child was charged with two counts of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, the Met said.

A complaint was later made to the IOPC.

The latest case follows those of Child Q and another anonymous teenager given the pseudonym Olivia by the BBC.

Child Q, 15, is suing the Metropolitan Police and her school after being wrongly suspected of carrying drugs.

The black schoolgirl was "traumatised" after she was searched by two officers at a Hackney secondary school.

She was searched in 2020 without another adult present and under the knowledge that the girl was menstruating.

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

People have protested over the treatment of Child Q.
People have protested over the treatment of Child Q. Picture: Alamy

A safeguarding review concluded that the strip-search should never have happened, was unjustified and racism "was likely to have been an influencing factor".

The case drew outrage from politicians and the public, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan sharing his "dismay and disgust", and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch calling it an "appalling incident".

Meanwhile, Olivia's mother told the BBC that her daughter was arrested after being accused of robbery, and while in custody was found to have a sharpened stick and a small blade, said to be for self-harming.

This prompted six officers to strip-search the autistic 15-year-old in front of male colleagues, leaving her traumatised.

The BBC reported that she later tried to kill herself.

Read more: Met police apologise to woman nine years after 'sexist and dehumanising' strip search

In a statement, Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker, said: “We know the impact such a search can have and our officers must fully consider the dignity and welfare of the person being searched. We appreciate the considerable public interest in and understand the concerns being raised, especially in the context of ‘Child Q’ in Hackney.

“We are engaging with our local community forums and advisory groups and to listen and respond to any specific questions and concerns they have. Strip searches are an authorised policing tactic which are used to protect communities from the weapons and drugs that blight our communities. We absolutely support scrutiny of how we police and all officers understand the importance of accountability and expect to have to justify the use of tactics and demonstrate that they are correctly and proportionately used."

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