The headteacher of the school where a 15-year old girl was subjected to an unsupervised strip by police should resign, Hackney Council leaders have said.
In a dramatic move, Philip Glanville, the Mayor of Hackney, said the council had heard more ‘troubling reports’ about the school and had therefore lost confidence in its leadership and the Headteacher should stand down to allow ‘a new start.’ The school, which has not been publicly named, but whose identity is now well known in the area, has so far refused to comment on the incident, which took place in 2020.
It has also been revealed that 25 other police strip-searches of children under 18 occurred during the same period in the borough, with officers finding nothing in 88pc of cases. ACCOUNT, a youth-lead police monitoring group in Hackney said only two of these searches were carried out on young white people.
Child Q, was subjected to an “unnecessary” and “humiliating” search with no adult supervision, according to the safeguarding review carried out into the case, which also concluded that racism was considered a “likely factor” in the incident. She had been suspected of possessing cannabis, but none was found in the search. The girl was taken out of an examination for the search, during which she was ordered to remove her sanitary towel.
Thousands of people marched from Stoke Newington Station to Hackney Town Hall on Sunday, in protest at the incident and calling for action against the police. Her family are considering legal action against the school and the police.
Glanville said on Twitter last night: “We’ve sadly only heard more troubling reports from staff, families & young people disturbed about the situation and eager for change. We don’t say this lightly, but we feel we’ve no choice but to express our lack of confidence in the current leadership of the school to ask that the Headteacher should stand down and allow that school and its community the new start it needs to heal from this traumatic experience and by doing so also fully recognise the traumatic impact on Child Q and her family.”
ACCOUNT said in a statement: “We have sat in countless meetings over the last few years where the existence of institutional racism, racial profiling, and racial trauma have been denied by the senior leadership of the Basic Command Unit”.
The Metropolitan Police have apologised over the incident and an investigation by the Office of Police Conduct is under way. The Minister of Policing, Kit Malthouse told the House of Commons that officers involved in the strip search “have a right to due process”.
Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, who attended attended the demonstration on Sunday said. “What I want to happen is there be some sort of sanction on the police officers and the teachers involved”, she told Sky News.
Commander Dr Alison Heydari of the Met’s Frontline Policing said in a statement: “It is truly regrettable and on behalf of the Met I reiterate our apology to the child concerned, her family and the wider community.”
Sophie Conway, Labour councillor for Hackney Central tweeted other solutions to ensure what happened to Child Q will not happen again.
“The systemic racism that gives rise to the disproportionate sanctioning of black children in our secondary schools, MUST be challenged. The national rate of school exclusions for black children is significantly higher than the national rate of school exclusions for white children. In Hackney the rate of school exclusions for black children is even higher.”
Hackney Police are conducting a community meeting in response to the affair this evening.