Child Q: Met Police strip searches of under-18s slammed as ‘child abuse’

“In any other scenario in society that kind of behaviour would be regarded as abuse.”

Police strip searches of under-18s have been criticised as “child abuse” by a London assembly member.

It comes as another investigation into a third incident in which a child was strip searched by Met Police officers, sparking a complaint.

Sign up to our LondonWorld Today newsletter

And it follows outrage over the cases of Child Q, a black 15-year-old schoolgirl, and ‘Olivia’ (not her real name) a 14-year-old mixed race child, who is autistic, who were both strip searched by Met officers while on their periods.

Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has confirmed it is investigating this third incident.

The Child Q protest in Hackney. Photo: LW

Last week Sir Stephen House, acting Met commissioner, told a City Hall meeting he was aware of this third incident, later confirmed by the IOPC.

Speaking after Sir Stephen’s appearance, Marina Ahmad, Labour assembly member, said she considered the strip searching of children “abuse”.

She said: “With both these cases there is a race dimension here as well.

“I desperately hope we don’t start having lots and lots of cases where it’s black children who have been, and I would use the word abused in this way.

“It’s adultification, yes, but in any other - and I am really clear about this - in any other scenario in society that kind of behaviour would be regarded as abuse.”

Marina Ahmad, Labour AM for Lambeth and Southwark. Photo: GLA

She added: “It’s really important that children, who are given rights across every other strata of society, are given those rights in that scenario.

“There has to be an appropriate adult there. Guardians need to be informed before this happens, and consent needs to be given as well.

“What worries me is that if we’re aware of at least one other case coming through the system, has there been some kind of culture of overriding children’s rights?”

The acting Met chief’s comments came in response to a question from Ms Ahmad.

Sir Stephen said: "Yes. There’s one more that I’m aware of that I simply can’t talk about."

Sir Stephen House at the City Hall police and crime committee. Photo: LW

Commenting after the meeting, the Labour AM for Lambeth and Southwark told LondonWorld: “He said one. I have a horrible feeling it might be more than one.”

She added: “I know he was saying that it’s only a handful of cases but those children don’t care whether there are only five or six of them that year.

“Their parents and families and the wider community don’t care.

“We have to protect children in whatever situation they are in.”

Commenting on the case, Siobhan Crawford, a laywer at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said: “I would expect a strip search to be taking place only in the presence of officers of the same sex.

“Somebody that had responsibility for her, should have been informed.

“It sounds like Olivia’s mother wasn’t being updated by the police about what was happening.”

She added: “I can’t see that in respect of her autism any special measures were put into place - and I think that’s absolutely abhorrent.

“Any child should not be treated that way but over and above that, I imagine she would have been highly distressed.

“It clearly had a significant impact on Olivia in so far as she’s tried to take her own life following this search.

“All of that to me would point to a claim for compensation for Olivia for the pain and suffering that she has suffered due to the police’s actions.”

The Met Police was contacted for a response to Ms Ahmad’s remarks, and declined to comment.