Metropolitan Police apologise for strip searching black schoolgirl on her period because she 'smelled of cannabis'

Three police officers involved in the 'traumatic' strip search of a black teenager at her school have been investigated for misconduct

Published

Three police officers involved in the “traumatic” strip search of a black teenager at her school have been investigated for misconduct.

The search, by Metropolitan Police officers, took place in 2020 without another adult present and in the knowledge that she was menstruating, a safeguarding report published in March found.

It concluded the strip search should never have happened, was unjustified and racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor”.

Police arrived at the school after being called by teachers, who told the review they had been concerned the teenager had drugs in her possession because she smelt of cannabis.

She was taken to the medical room and strip searched by two female officers, while teachers remained outside.

During the ordeal her intimate body parts were exposed and she was made to take off her sanitary towel, according to the review.

No drugs were found. She was then sent home by taxi, later sharing her distress with her mother.

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

Scotland Yard has apologised and said the incident “should never have happened”.

In a written statement to the review, the girl said she cannot go a single day “without wanting to scream, shout, cry or just give up”.

She said: “All the people that allowed this to happen need to be held responsible. I was held responsible for a smell … but I’m just a child."

Detective Superintendent Dan Rutland of the Met’s Central East Command said: “We recognise that the findings of the safeguarding review reflect that this incident should never have happened.

"It is truly regrettable and on behalf of the Met Police I would like to apologise to the child concerned, her family and the wider community.

“It is wholly right that the actions of officers are held to scrutiny and we welcome this review which was commissioned by the statutory partnership with the support of police.

"We have already reminded local officers of the appropriate policies in place around carrying out searches in schools.

“We are conscious that the IOPC are still completing their independent investigation, so further comment would be inappropriate at this time.”