We are horrified to learn of the experiences of Child Q, a Black girl who was strip searched by police officers at her Hackney school because of suspected cannabis possession.
Our thoughts are with the young person and her family. We hope that they can hear the national outrage and solidarity being expressed from all corners of society at what they have been subjected to.
We want to express our outrage at the actions on the part of Hackney authorities. This child was failed and violated by people who are meant to keep her safe.
Hackney Council’s safeguarding report details how the professionals failed to take a safeguarding first approach. The institutions that failed in their duties in the first instance were the school and the police, in particular the Tower Hamlets and Hackney Borough Command.
The safeguarding report found that “racism (whether deliberate or not) was likely to have been an influencing factor in the decision to undertake a strip search”. Action needs to be taken which recognises the magnitude of these events and the depth of racism within these institutions.
The excuse for the strip search was the suspicion that the girl was hiding cannabis. This example shows that suspected cannabis possession is too often used as an excuse by police in Hackney and elsewhere to target young black people.
We are all too aware that this is not a one-off incident. Hackney Account’s research has highlighted the trauma young black people experience when they are stopped and searched by the police. It is sad to see that the historical divide between Black communities and police is still as wide as ever, as highlighted with this incident. The safety and wellbeing of Black people and their families are an afterthought on our streets and this situation has also breached the seeming safety of our schools.
No one should be subjected to this treatment. The police have strayed far from their founding principles and the Green Party has frequently called for deep reform. The racist and sexualised abuse by the police exemplifies the ongoing adultification of our young, Black pupils and this must end.
The Green Party has already called for the deprioritisation of the policing of cannabis and an end to the use of stop and search for suspected drug possession.
In addition, in response to this incidence, we demand:
- The school undertakes an inquiry into the incident and disciplines those members of staff responsible for failing to safeguard Child Q.
- The police officers and the Borough Command Chief involved resign or be dismissed.
- The Mayor of Hackney and his Council clarify how Hackney Council will work to hold the police to account and to ensure no citizens in the borough are subjected to unsafe and racist policing.
- The Mayor of London urgently delivers on his commitment to address the policing of cannabis in London.