Sadiq Khan has asked the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to upgrade its investigation of the strip-search of a 15-year-old girl by Metropolitan Police officers in a Hackney school in 2020 to one of gross misconduct.
In a letter to IOPC director general Michael Lockwood, the Mayor said that having read the review of the incident by the City and Hackney Safeguarding Board with “dismay and disgust” he wants the IOPC to upgrade its “initial severity assessment of misconduct”, particularly in view of review’s finding that “racism had a role in the decision to conduct the strip search”.
The review brought stark details of the case into the public eye along with its view that “adultification bias” was a factor, meaning that adults had perceived the child to be older than she was because she was black and seen as “streetwise”.
Police were called to the girl’s school by teachers who have said they were concerned that she drugs in her possession because she smelled of cannabis. The strip search was conducted by two female officers with no teachers in the room. The review says the girl was made to remove her sanitary towel during the intimate search. No drugs were found.
The Met has already conceded that the officers’ actions were “regrettable” and that the incident “should never have happened”. The safeguarding review says the harmful impact on the girl has been “profound” and is ongoing.
In his letter to Lockwood Khan says that “in line with statutory guidance allegations of discrimination would normally be considered at the level gross misconduct rather than misconduct” and asks him to confirm that the case will accordingly be considered one of gross misconduct.
In a statement the Mayor said, “I am disgusted and angered by the account of what a 15-year-old black schoolgirl from Hackney was subjected to” and added that he is determined that the next Metropolitan Police commissioner “must have a plan to tackle the serious cultural issues within the Met Police and regain the trust of Londoners”.
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