Sadiq Khan calls for Met Police officers who strip-searched 15-year-old girl to be charged with 'gross misconduct'
The Mayor of London has pushed for gross misconduct charges after a review found racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor” in the decision to carry out the search
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for the officers who strip-searched a black schoolgirl while on her period to be charged with gross misconduct after a report found racism had a role in their decision.
A safeguarding report found that the “traumatic” search by Metropolitan Police officers at the end of 2020 took place at the girl’s school without another adult present, and in the knowledge that she was menstruating.
It said racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor” in the decision to carry out the search.
After teachers called the police to the 15-year-old girl’s school, referred to as Child Q in the report, they conducted a strip search where her intimate body parts were exposed and she was made to take off her sanitary towel, according to the review.
Mr Khan wrote to the Independent Office for Police Conduct on Wednesday to argue that the officers involved should be charged with gross misconduct rather than misconduct, because of the review’s finding that racism had a role in the decision to conduct the strip search.
Mr Khan said he read the report with “dismay and disgust”, adding: “I understand that in line with statutory guidance, allegations of discrimination would normally be considered at the level of gross misconduct rather than misconduct.”
He said the sole reason for the search was the smell of cannabis, an issue which had previously been addressed by the IOPC, the College of Policing and City Hall’s Action Plan, published in November 2020.
The plan states: “The IOPC therefore recommends that the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] take steps to ensure that their officers are not relying on the smell of cannabis alone when deciding to stop and search someone and use grounds based upon multiple objective factors.”
In the review, Child Q 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.”
Mr Khan wrote: “As Mayor, I have been clear that London’s police service must have the trust and confidence of the public they serve and incidents such as those experienced by Child Q, not only foster distrust in the Met but actively hamper any efforts to police by consent.”
He said Londoners “rightly expect their police service to act with the utmost integrity at all times”, and that where standards are not met, they need to have trust that those charged with investigating the police would “leave no stone unturned”.
“This case has understandably caused widespread concern among the public and it is important that all allegations are thoroughly investigated, and that all relevant sources of information are taken into account,” he said.