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Three officers to face misconduct hearing re their role in the search of Child Q

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Three officers to face misconduct hearing re their role in the search of Child Q

Three officers will face a misconduct hearing for their role in the search of Child Q.

The Met voluntarily referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct in May 2021 following complaints about the incident inside a school in Hackney in December 2020.

Following an independent investigation, the IOPC has determined two officers who carried out the search and a third officer who was also at the school have a case to answer for gross misconduct. The allegations include that they did not follow procedure and that they discriminated against Child Q due to her race and gender.

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.

“Since Child Q we have made significant practical improvements, such as requiring more senior levels of authorisation, in how we carry out strip searches in custody and what we call ‘more thorough searches where intimate parts are exposed’ outside of custody. We had been overusing this power, and work locally and across the Met has significantly reduced our numbers.

“We continue to work hard to listen to what our communities and partners have told us about this incident and use of search powers more generally. We wish these types of searches were not necessary but sadly we know there are children in London being exploited to carry drugs and weapons for others as well as involved in criminality.

”We welcome further conversations nationally about these issues.”

A misconduct meeting will be held for a fourth officer, who was also at the school, as the IOPC did not find that the alleged actions of this officer were at the level of gross misconduct. The meeting, with a more senior officer, will determine whether the allegations are proven, if they amount to misconduct and if so, what the sanction should be.

The search of Child Q took place on Thursday, 3 December 2020, when police were called to a school where staff were concerned that a 15-year-old girl smelled strongly of cannabis and may have been in possession of drugs.

The child’s bag and outer clothing had already been searched by staff at the school prior to police arrival with no drugs found.

Two female officers conducted a more thorough search of the girl, that exposed intimate parts, in the medical room at the school under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. She was not physically touched by the searching officers.

No force was used and no drugs were located.

The search was not undertaken in the presence of an appropriate adult.

While we should not have needed an incident such as Child Q to check our approach, the incident promoted a review of all strip searches and more thorough searches where intimate parts are exposed (MTIP searches) across the Met and a number of voluntary referrals were made to the IOPC. We are aware of the outcome of four of those cases and are progressing disciplinary matters as appropriate.

+ In June City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership published an update report on Child Q: Det Ch Supt Conway responded with an open letter to local residents which you can read here: -

+ We publish data, which shows how the figures have significantly fallen on these types of searches, both inside and outside of custody:

Stops and Search - More Thorough Searches Dashboard | Tableau Public

Custody Dashboard | Tableau Public

+ More information below about the other four cases referenced by the IOPC:

2022 strip search on a teenager in custody:

Following a third-party complaint about the strip search of a child in custody in 2022, the Met referred the matter to the IOPC who took the decision to investigate.

That investigation has concluded and a police sergeant will face a misconduct meeting for a possible breach of professional standards relating to equality and diversity and duties and responsibilities for their actions, including that they failed to ensure a suitable appropriate adult attended the strip search.

It was also recommended that the six PCs who carried out the search be subject to reflective practice. Whilst it was concluded that the search was justified, it was believed the number of officers present when it was carried out was excessive.

Finally, two detective constables were found to have no case to answer for not facilitating an interpreter for the child’s mother, who was acting as the appropriate adult. One of the DCs was however recommended for reflective practice to ensure they were cognisant of the roles and responsibilities of an appropriate adult.

2020 strip search of a 15-year-old in custody

We are aware the IOPC has concluded its investigation into how officers dealt with a 15-year-old who was strip searched at Walworth Police Station in December 2020 following her arrest.

A disciplinary meeting is being arranged for a custody officer and three more officers will undergo a reflective practice review process to learn from the incident.

We referred this case to the IOPC to consider as part of a review of strip searches and more intimate searches of children.

The IOPC did not find the child should not have been strip searched but there were things the officers should have done better. Safety in our custody suites is a priority and there is high expectation all officers follow the correct procedures for the protection of everyone, particularly any child involved.

Across the Met safety procedures, training and equipment are constantly kept under review. From February 2022, the use of search wands was incorporated into Public and Personal Safety Training (PPST), with a focus on their practical use as well as enhanced searching of people and vehicles.

2020 strip search of a 16-year-old in custody

The matter involves a 16-year-old boy strip searched in custody at Ilford police station in January 2020. We referred the case to the IOPC in June 2022 and the IOPC began an independent investigation. The IOPC found no indication that any officer behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings.

2020 strip search of a 16-year-old in custody

This matter involves a 16-year-old boy strip searched in custody at Bethnal Green police station in October 2020. We referred the case to the IOPC in June 2022 and the IOPC began an independent investigation. The IOPC have indicated the investigation is in its final stages and there is no indication that any officers may have behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings




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