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Girl, 14, left traumatised and tried to take her own life after police strip searched her

Sadiq Khan says Met police should explain partygate conclusions

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Olivia, not the child’s real name, was allegedly handcuffed and had her underwear cut off in front of male officers, claimed her mother. This follows the case of Child Q, a 15-year-old black pupil strip searched at school after wrongly being accused of possessing drugs.

Olivia, who is mixed-race, was allegedly held for more than 20 hours by the Metropolitan Police.

During that time, it is claimed she had her underwear cut off in the presence of male officers – while she was on her period.

Her mother, Lisa, whose name has also been changed, said she told officers that her daughter was autistic and had been self harming.

Lisa told BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme the ordeal had seriously impacted Olivia’s mental health.

She said: “She became quite reclusive. She spent a lot of time in her room and she continued to self-harm in secret.

“And then a few weeks later, she attempted suicide.”

The search occurred when police were called by two boys who claimed they were victims of an attempted knife-point robbery. Olivia and another girl were arrested and spent 20 hours in custody.

Her mother said that the search, which took place in December 2020, was carried out after the officers found a sharpened stick.

She said: “Not only have they strip searched her, they’ve handcuffed her to do it. They’ve pinned her to the floor. Olivia was actually on her period at the time too.

“And they cut off her underwear in front of these grown male officers.”

The child later appeared in court accused of possession of a bladed weapon and was found not guilty.

Laurence Taylor, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said a force investigation was looking into the search to see if it was appropriate and how it was conducted. However, on File on 4, he defended the practice as a whole.

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He said: “Worst case scenario would be that we stop strip-searching in its entirety and a young child dies in custody because they are in possession of a knife or drugs that they use to harm themselves.

“And we have a big responsibility to people coming into our custody environment. We’re responsible for their safety.”

Figures obtained by the BBC show that more than 13,000 strip-searches of children under the age of 18 have been carried out by police forces over the last five years.

The real figure is likely much higher as only 31 of 44 police forces in England and Wales provided data following a Freedom of Information Act request.

The BBC claimed that separate data showed that 75 percent of children strip-searched by the Metropolitan Police were ethnically diverse, leading to allegations of racism.

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