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London police search hundreds of children: new data

#London #police #search #hundreds #children #data

London police under fire searched more than 600 children, most of them black boys, over a two-year period, according to new data released on Monday.

England’s Children’s Ombudsman Rachel de Souza said she was “deeply shocked” by the figures after receiving them from the Metropolitan Police.

De Souza’s request came after Britain’s main police force was forced in March to apologize over the “Child Q” case, which has sparked an investigation into gross misconduct against four officers.

The 15-year-old black schoolgirl was strip-searched by female officers in 2020 after they were falsely suspected of having cannabis on her despite knowing she was menstruating.

She was searched without an “appropriate adult” present, and in 23 percent of the cases uncovered by de Souza, no adult was present either.

In total, 650 minors between the ages of 10 and 17 were searched by Met officials between 2018 and 2020, she found.

More than 95 percent were boys, and 58 percent of the 650 were described by the officer as black.

De Souza said she was “extremely concerned” about the racial imbalance and said Child Q could be part of a larger “systemic problem around child protection” at the Met.

The numbers have risen sharply year after year, she said, showing that significant numbers of children are “exposed to this intrusive and traumatizing practice each year.”

The London force has been rocked by a series of incidents involving officers in recent years, including last year when a member of the Diplomatic Protection Squad was jailed for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

Cressida Dick resigned as Met commissioner in February due to a crisis in public trust in the police force.

In response to de Souza’s findings, the Met said it has already made changes “to ensure children who are subjected to intrusive searches are treated appropriately and respectfully.”

Some children may themselves be “vulnerable victims of exploitation” by gangsters and drug criminals, she acknowledged.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan redoubled his criticism of the Met after slamming the violence over the Child Q case and other incidents.

It is “deeply concerning” that so many strip searches have taken place without an adult present, a spokesman for Khan said.

“And serious, broader issues remain regarding the disproportionality and use of stops and searches on young black boys,” the spokesman said.

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