DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
News

Diane Abbott demands meeting with Hackney police after Black schoolgirl strip-searched

The student was removed from an exam and taken to a private room where she was strip-searched while on her period.

Diane Abbott. Image: Parliament TV

Dianne Abbott has demanded an “urgent meeting” with Hackney police to address institutional racism and bias after a 15-year-old Black girl was strip searched at school.

The schoolgirl was pulled out of an exam after her teachers called the police to investigate what they said was the smell of cannabis on her clothing. She was then taken by two female officers to be strip searched in the school’s medical room, was told to remove the sanitary towel she was wearing due to being on her period, and had her intimate parts exposed. 

No other adult was present and her parents were not contacted. No cannabis was found.  

A​​ Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review into the 2020 incident was published this week by the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP). In it the girl, referred to as child Q, is described by her aunt as no longer a “top of the class” child, but “a shell of her former bubbly self” who is “now self-harming and requires therapy”.

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

It also said it was likely that “adultification bias” was a factor in police actions – where Black children are perceived as older than they are, with people in positions of power being less protective and more punitive towards them. 

“The indignities that child Q was subjected to are not an aberration, they’re part of a bigger picture of institutional racism and discrimination within policing,” wrote Abbott alongside the publication of the letter.

Writing to the Hackney borough commander Marcus Barnett, the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP said: “This search was clearly degrading, humiliating and traumatic for child Q and I am personally disgusted.”

She requested a meeting with the leadership team of Hackney police to discuss “how vital improvements can be made.”

The Met Police has apologised and said that the incident should not have happened, while Scotland Yard has called the officers’ actions “regrettable”.

Abbott also said she was “increasingly concerned” by the actions of Hackney officers, as the revelations emerge not long after an apology was made by the Met to Dr Konstancja Duff, who was also strip-searched by Hackney police after offering a card with legal information on to a 15-year-old who was being stop-and-searched in east London. 

A protest demanding “No Police In Schools” organised by Hackney Cop Watch is planned for 4pm on Friday outside Stoke Newington Police Station in Hackney. 

“After what police did to child Q, and to the 25 other children stripped searched in Hackney schools last year, we say No More Police in Schools. We are Hackney children, parents, educators, and community members and we withdraw consent now,” the campaign group has said. 

Police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) has completed a misconduct investigation into three officers involved in the strip-search of the schoolgirl and says it is finalising its report.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Wealth tax, tuition fees and vow to 'fix broken Britain': Key takeaways from the Green Party manifesto
General election 2024

Wealth tax, tuition fees and vow to 'fix broken Britain': Key takeaways from the Green Party manifesto

Rishi Sunak sparks hunt for world's tiniest violin after saying he went without Sky TV as a child
Rishi Sunak works at his desk
General election 2024

Rishi Sunak sparks hunt for world's tiniest violin after saying he went without Sky TV as a child

'It's crisis point': Social housing waiting list will cost next government £205bn to clear
building social housing
Social housing

'It's crisis point': Social housing waiting list will cost next government £205bn to clear

Should we end Thatcher's Right to Buy? How scrapping scheme could help solve UK's housing crisis
Andy Burnham has differing views to Margaret Thatcher on Right to Buy
Right to Buy

Should we end Thatcher's Right to Buy? How scrapping scheme could help solve UK's housing crisis

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know