UK officers moved to desk duties after strip search outcry

LONDON (AP) — London’s Metropolitan Police said Thursday that two officers who strip-searched a Black teenage girl at her school have been moved from front-line duties after a public outcry over the case.

A child safeguarding report conducted by local authorities found that the 15-year-old, who is only identified as “Child Q,” was strip-searched by female police officers at her school in 2020 without another adult present and with the knowledge that she was menstruating.

The teenager’s teachers had called police after reporting that she smelled “strongly of cannabis.” The girl was searched in the school’s medical room, and her mother was not contacted in advance. No drugs were found.

The report said the search was unjustified and that “racism (whether deliberate or not) was likely to have been an influencing factor in the decision to undertake a strip search.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described reports of the incident as “deeply distressing and deeply concerning.” Hundreds have gathered in London for anti-racism protests in solidarity with the girl and her family over the weekend.

The Metropolitan Police has apologized and said the incident “should never have happened.”

The teenager is taking legal action against the police force, with the hope of securing commitments that such incidents never take place again.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct launched its investigation following a complaint in 2021 and is finalizing its report.

A spokesman from the Metropolitan Police confirmed that two officers were moved to desk duties last week after the reports surfaced.

The police force, which is Britain’s largest, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months after a string of controversies over alleged misogyny and racism among officers.

In February, Cressida Dick resigned from her role as head of Metropolitan Police after London’s mayor Sadiq Khan said she was not doing enough to urgently overhaul the force and regain public confidence.

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