Child Q officers investigated in gross misconduct hearing

Hackney borough commander Marcus Barnett, chief inspector Lukvinder Singh and commander Paul Brogden

Hackney borough commander Marcus Barnett, chief inspector Lukvinder Singh and commander Paul Brogden - Credit: Julia Gregory

The officers who strip-searched a Black teenager in her school are being investigated to see if they are guilty of “gross misconduct”, a police watchdog has revealed.

The update into the Independent Office of Police Conduct’s (IOPC) investigation into the case of the 15-year-old girl, known as Child Q for legal reasons, was given at a scrutiny meeting at the Town Hall last night.

The teenager was removed from a mock exam in December 2020 and strip-searched after school staff thought she smelt of cannabis. She was having her period at the time.

She has previously detailed the devastating effect the search had on her: “I can’t go a single day without wanting to scream, shout, cry or just give up.

“I don’t know if I’m going to feel normal again. But I do know this can’t happen to anyone else, ever again.”

At this week's special scrutiny meeting into the Child Q scandal, Hackney’s borough commander Marcus Barnett told councillors: “It is beyond regrettable that it ever happened to a young child.”

The IOPC said it is now investigating if what happened was gross misconduct, rather than misconduct.

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The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) also confirmed that the IOPC has “recently uplifted the level of their investigation to gross misconduct”, but added: “No decision about the level of misconduct proceedings the officers will face has been made.”

Jim Gamble, who led a City and Hackney safeguarding review of the scandal, said: “It was critical that it was a watershed moment.”

Gamble added: “The family felt that the impact on them was racist. They made that clear.

“Ask yourself this question: would this have happened to a 15 year-old white girl in another borough? The answer is no.”

Barnett said the incident has caused “anger and anxiety in the community”.

Another change means higher ranking officers now have to be involved in overseeing an intimate body search like the one carried out on Child Q.

Barnett said there have been seven similar searches involving children in the last year in Hackney.

He said he could not rule them out entirely because young people could be exploited into carrying drugs or weapons, but stressed they are very rare.

The number of stop-and-searches in Hackney has dropped from 11,000 a year to 7,000.

Chief Inspector Lukvinder Singh outlined the cultural training police receive about the communities they serve.