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Hundreds protest outside Stoke Newington police station in support of Child Q

Child Q, a Black schoolgirl, was taken out of an exam and strip searched by police, in an incident investigators said was likely motivated by racism.

Protesters outside Stoke Newington police station in support of Child Q. Image: Greg Barradale

Hundreds of protesters have rallied outside Stoke Newington police station in support of Child Q, the Black schoolgirl who was strip-searched by police after being taken out of an exam.

A huge crowd – including local MP Diane Abbott – turned out for the demonstration at the station in Hackney, the same borough where the horrifying incident took place.

Chants of: “Racist cops, out of schools” rang out, while signs reading: “We say no to police in schools” and “No to racist police” were held aloft.

An investigation found racism was an “influencing factor” in the treatment of 15-year-old Child Q, who was taken out of an exam and strip searched while menstruating after cannabis was smelt near her.

No cannabis was found during the search, which took place with no other adults present. Her intimate parts were exposed during the incident, and her parents were not informed it had taken place. Three police officers are under investigation for misconduct by police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Speaking to The Big Issue, Abbott said she was horrified when she found out about the incident, and the fact it took two years to come to light showed that teachers and police “thought this was just normal”. She now wants to see teachers and officers reprimanded and will meet with Hackney police chiefs on Wednesday next week.

She added: “I think people are shocked and horrified by what’s happened. Shocked by the police strip-searching a child with no reference to the child’s parents, not asking if the parents had been notified, and shocked and horrified by the school.

“What sort of teachers call the police on a schoolgirl because they think they’ve smelt cannabis?”

The protest was organised by the group Hackney CopWatch, who are calling for “no police in schools”, while Hackney Stand Up To Racism hosted a second protest. Another took place at 5pm in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square.

“We judge a society how you treat your children. I think both Black and white people have a responsibility to challenge institutional racism,” said Weyman Bennett, co-convener of Stand Up To Racism.

“We’ve just had the Sewell report where the government said they couldn’t find any examples of institutional racism. I think they didn’t look very hard – this happened in 2020.”

Child Q, whose anonymity has been protected, on Friday thanked those who had offered support, and said: “I know I am not alone.”

She has launched civil proceedings against the school and the Met Police.

Chanel Dolcy, of Bhatt Murphy, who is representing the Child Q and her mother, said: “The Metropolitan Police has seemed incapable of reform for generations, and it is difficult to say that it will ever change.

“Nevertheless, this is a pivotal time for the Metropolitan Police as it awaits the appointment of a new Commissioner and so the family are calling on the Home Secretary and the Mayor of London to ensure that only someone willing to declare publicly the persistence of institutional racism and sexism in the Metropolitan Police is appointed.”

The family has requested that there be no speculation on the identity of Child Q’s school.

More than 40 MPs wrote to home secretary Priti Patel on Friday, asking for information on how the police and the school will be held to account over the incident.

Hackney Council has also accused police of stonewalling the safeguarding review, and told Scotland Yard: “The case did not happen in a vacuum”.

Just two months ago the Met Police apologised to Dr Koshka Duff for the “sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language used” while she was being strip-searched by police at Stoke Newington station in 2013.

Duff was trying to give a “know your rights” legal advice card to a 15-year-old Black boy during a stop and search.

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