Four Metropolitan Police officers will face gross misconduct notices after a Black teenager was strip-searched. Known as Child Q, the 15-year-old was wrongly accused of carrying cannabis.
She was strip-searched by four police officers in her east London school in 2020. Protests and condemnation erupted after it emerged the teenager was searched without another adult present and in the knowledge that she was menstruating.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed that four Met officers have been served with gross misconduct notices in connection with its ongoing investigation into complaints that Child Q was inappropriately strip-searched. Previously it was the case that the IOPC was investigating three police officers for misconduct.
A spokesman for the IOPC said: “As with all of our investigations we continually review the evidence and lines of inquiry as the investigation progresses. As a part of this, matters were identified which required new notices of investigation to be served on officers.
“Four constables have now been advised that they are being investigated for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour at the level of gross misconduct, which does not necessarily mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow. Any conduct matters identified, and their seriousness, are kept under review throughout and can be amended in light of any evidence gathered by the investigation team.”
The IOPC said its investigation is examining whether legislation, policies and procedures were followed during the strip-search of the child. “We are looking at complaints that her mother was not given the opportunity to be present during the strip-search, and that there was no other appropriate adult present,” the IOPC spokesman said.
“We are also considering whether the child’s ethnicity played a part in the officers’ decision to strip-search her.”
The search of Child Q took place without another adult present and in the knowledge that she was menstruating, a safeguarding report found. The local child safeguarding practice review, conducted by City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP), concluded the strip-search should never have happened, was unjustified and racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor”.