A senior member of the London Assembly (AM) has called on Sadiq Khan’s deputy for policing and crime to address concerns about the Met’s use of strip searches arising from the widely-publicised case of a 15 year-old girl being subjected to the practice at her school in Hackney.
Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon (pictured), a member of the Assembly’s police and crime committee, has written to Sophie Linden, whose role entails heading the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), asking her what “immediate actions” she is taking in view of a local police chief’s acknowledgement that the Hackney school incident “should never have happened”, if she will work with the Met to audit “all strip searches undertaken in the last five years” and commit to asking government inspectors to intervene if “consistent themes of poor practice or misconduct are found”.
Pidgeon also ask Linden what work she is doing with the Met to correct so-called “adultification bias”, whereby black children are perceived as being older than they actually are because they are seen as being “streetwise”. A review of the 15 year-old girl’s case by the local official child safeguarding authority found this was likely to have been a factor behind the actions of the police officers, which took place with no other adults present. The girl, who has been left badly traumatised, was having her period at the time. No drugs were found.
In addition, Linden has been asked to review the progress of promised improvements to safeguarding under a changed Borough Command Unit model introduced in 2018.
Pidgeon is still waiting for a reply to a written a question she submitted to the Mayor on 24 February seeking “a breakdown of the number of [such] searches conducted on members of the public by Metropolitan Police officers involving the removal of some or all of their clothing, revealing them naked or partially naked” during the past four years, with a breakdown by sex, ethnicity and age range.
Answers to written questions are supposed to be provided within a week but Pidgeon has heard nothing since being told on 1 March that a response, which would be provided by MOPAC, was being drafted.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is investigating the Hackney schoolgirl case, was asked yesterday by Mayor Khan to upgrade its initial assessment of the incident as one of misconduct to one of “gross misconduct”.
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