Officers who strip-searched girl, 15, to face misconduct hearing

Three Metropolitan Police officers are facing allegations of gross misconduct after the strip-search of a 15-year-old schoolgirl in 2020.

Child Q was wrongly accused of possessing cannabis and was searched while on her period and with no appropriate adult present at a school in Hackney, east London.

No drugs were found on her clothing or in her bag before two female officers searched her as two male officers waited outside – again, no drugs were found.

On Thursday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said three officers would face a misconduct hearing, with a fourth officer facing a lesser misconduct meeting.

The allegations include that they discriminated against Child Q because of her race and gender.

“The strip-search of Child Q, a 15-year-old girl, at her school in Hackney caused widespread concern,” IOPC director Steve Noonan said.

“We’ve found that four officers involved in the incident should face disciplinary proceedings for the parts they played.

“Ultimately it will be for that disciplinary panel to decide whether the allegations against them are proven.

“We will now be liaising with the Met Police around disciplinary proceedings. We’ve kept Child Q’s representatives and the officers involved updated throughout our investigation.”

The Met’s bosses have also been told by the IOPC they should consider apologising to Child Q and her mother with formal letters.

The three officers accused of gross misconduct face allegations that:

• The decision to carry out the search was inappropriate

• Child Q was discriminated against because of her race and sex

• There was no appropriate adult present

• And the officers did not get authorisation from a supervisor

If gross misconduct is proved, the officers could be sacked.

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The fourth officer will have a disciplinary meeting over there not being an appropriate adult present at the time.

Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway, who leads policing in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, said: “We have been clear in saying that the experience of Child Q should never have happened and was truly regrettable.

“While we have publicly apologised, I am also writing formally to Child Q and her family to say sorry for the trauma that we caused her.

“It will now be for the hearing panel to determine whether the matters against the three officers are proven and it is important we don’t pre-judge the outcome.”

More senior levels of authorisation are now needed for strip searches, he added, and the number of such searches being carried out has been reduced because the force “had been overusing this power”.