MUCH tougher guidelines will be introduced in response to the ‘hugely distressing’ strip-searching of a black schoolgirl referred to as Child Q, the education secretary has said.
Nadhim Zahawi said he would set out a new policy after the ‘appalling’ incident.
The 15-year-old was wrongly suspected by teachers of carrying cannabis.
A safeguarding report found racism was ‘likely’ to have been a factor in the search of the girl.
Protests erupted after it emerged the teenager was searched by two female Metropolitan Police officers at a school in Hackney in 2020, without another adult present and in the knowledge that she was menstruating.
Zahawi said: ‘It’s appalling, what happened. I’m reviewing what our guidelines, our policies, are on this. No child should have been exposed to that sort of trauma.
‘The parents weren’t even contacted, which I find hugely distressing, which is why I’ve asked my team to review the policy on this, and I will be saying more about this very soon.’
Zahawi said he would set out a new policy after the ‘appalling’ incident
He did not say whether he thought racism was a factor, adding: ‘I don’t know because I don’t know what drove those police officers.
‘You don’t have to have a child to be shocked that a child is allowed to be strip-searched in an environment which is meant to be a protective environment – school is a protective environment for children – hence why I have asked my team to make sure that we review the policies, and I will be saying more, but I will certainly be looking at putting out much tougher guidelines on this.’
Meanwhile, a government adviser has also condemned the incident, saying it should ‘horrify us all’.
Nimco Ali, an adviser on violence against women and girls to the Home Office, said the UK should not tolerate minors being strip-searched.
The school’s governing board said the school ‘was not aware that a strip-search was taking place’.
It has apologised to the girl and her family, who are suing the east London school and the Met Police over the incident.