Met Police Officers investigated for misconduct after black schoolgirl strip-searched on her period

Tap above to watch video report by Ria Chatterjee

Three Metropolitan Police officers involved in strip searching a black teenager at her school while she was on her period have been investigated for misconduct.

The search took place in 2020 without another adult present and in the knowledge that she was menstruating, a safeguarding report published in March found.

It concluded the strip search should never have happened, was unjustified and racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor”.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC), which started investigating following a complaint in May 2021, said it has completed its investigation and is finalising its report.

It examined whether the girl’s ethnicity played a part in the decision to strip search her, and into complaints that her mother was not given the opportunity to be present.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “We recognise the seriousness of this case and the concern it has caused in the community following the publication of the Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review into this incident.

“We have now completed all lines of inquiry for our investigation and we are close to finalising our report. We will look to conclude decision making around that at the earliest opportunity.”

The Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review was conducted by City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP) following the incident at the end of 2020.

It said police arrived at the school after being called by teachers, who told the review they had been concerned the teenager had drugs in her possession because she smelt of cannabis.

Credit: ITV News

She was taken to the medical room and strip searched by two female officers, while teachers remained outside.

During the ordeal her intimate body parts were exposed and she was made to take off her sanitary towel, according to the review.

No drugs were found. She was then sent home by taxi, later sharing her distress with her mother.

Her family strongly believe the strip search was a racist incident, and the review found her experiences are “unlikely to have been the same” had she not been black.

Scotland Yard has apologised and said the incident “should never have happened”.

In a written statement to the review, the girl said she cannot go a single day “without wanting to scream, shout, cry or just give up”.

She said: “All the people that allowed this to happen need to be held responsible. I was held responsible for a smell … but I’m just a child.

“The main thing I need is space and time to understand what has happened to me and exactly how I feel about it and getting past this exam season.”

She added: “I need to know that the people who have done this to me can’t do it to anyone else ever again, in fact so no one else can do this to any other child in their care.”

Family members described her as changing from a “happy-go-lucky girl to a timid recluse who hardly speaks”, who now self-harms and needs therapy.

Speaking to ITV News, criminal lawyer Sandra Paul said it appeared the safeguarding of children was "not the priority" in this case.

"The school had a legitimate concern when it started because I would expect somebody to be worried about a child who might have been in contact with someone who is using cannabis," she said. "But it's your response to it that's important.

"Is your response to try and look at the welfare of that child and understand what might be going on for them?

"Or is your response a criminal justice response - a punitive response? "It's not normal for children to smell of cannabis, we should be concerned about that, but the response has to be one designed and guided by their welfare, not by criminalising them," she added.