Child Q: powerful set of actions undertaken by Council to better protect residents from harm and racism
A review of the role of police in schools; listening to and hearing about the lived experiences of Black and Global Majority residents; and making changes to how the Council works so it’s more informed by communities affected by racism form part of a wide-ranging series of powerful actions being undertaken by Hackney Council to better protect residents from harm and racism, a Council meeting heard earlier this week.
The work follows the stripsearch of Child Q, a Black teenage girl, by police officers in a Hackney secondary school. An investigation found that racism and ‘adultification bias’ - where Black children are treated more harshly than their white peers - were ‘likely’ factors in what happened.
This independent review led by the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Panel made 14 recommendations to ensure children are protected in future - with a focus on Black and Global Majority children. While the Council is not named in any of the recommendations, it has been leading aspects of the response, including: ensuring the work by police and others leads to real change; responding to the impact of the case on communities; making changes to how the Council thinks and works as a result of this community feedback; and putting pressure on the Government to make changes in the law to ensure children are better protected.
On Monday 13 June a special scrutiny meeting, made up of councillors acting independently of the Council, was held. They called on the Council, the Met Police and the Mayor’s policing office to demonstrate what work they had done since the Child Q case was revealed in March.
The Council’s work covers four key areas: work with police; work with schools; work with the community; and work to make changes to the law.
Work with police
Trust and confidence action plan
- The Council facilitated the development of a strategic action plan co-produced by the community, council and police to help rebuild trust in the service locally.
Role of police in schools
- The Council is leading the urgent revision of how safer schools police officers work and act in schools; and the protocols around police school visits.
Guidance to schools about police
- The Council sent out guidance on searches as well as police visits to all schools, and wrote to the Deputy Mayor for Policing for a wider London review of the guidance to Safer Schools Police Officers
Work with schools
- The Council worked with the school Child Q attended to bring in additional leadership to ensure the school community was fully supported.
- It supported spaces and provided material on talking to and listening to children and staff affected by racism.
- It facilitated a joint headteacher statement on anti-racism and safeguarding.
Work with secondary schools
- The Council urged all secondary schools, most of which are academies not formally accountable to the Council, to work together to better protect students from harm and racism.
- It asked schools to focus on listening to more pupils and parents from the Black and Global Majority and to ensure stronger anti-racism practices are being developed.
- It is overseeing the development and use of an inclusion charter, encompassing anti-racism.
Sustained work on anti-racism
The Council has significantly expanded adultification training and made it available to all schools.
Listening to children
- The Council is focussed on capturing the voices and views of children in schools about their schools, in particular Black children, children entitled to pupil premium grant, and children with special educational needs and disabilities.
Listening to parents/carers
- The Council is committed to also capturing the voices of parents/carers who are most likely to experience a sense of exclusion within the school system. This will help ensure these parents are better supported by the education system.
Schools and staffing
The Council has been providing:
- Racialised trauma support as well as information, drop-in and Q&A sessions.
- Induction and refresher training on anti-racism.
Promoting anti-discriminatory practices with school governors
The Council will:
- Diversify governing boards and expand the young governor initiative, focusing on Black and Global Majority recruits.
- Strengthen training for school governors on safeguarding.
- Refine school exclusions training for governors, jointly with young people.
- Develop or strengthen anti-racism or safeguarding training for governors.
- Train senior school leaders and governors on ‘adultification’.
- Ensure pupil and parent voices are included in governors’ key decisions.
Work with the community
The Council has held or will hold a series of events to listen to residents, including:
- Online sessions for parents, carers and guardians to update them on actions within the education system and have their questions answered by senior leaders.
- Safe space sessions for young Black girls to speak about their experiences of living and growing up in Hackney, as well as of the education system and the police.
- Workshops with young people through youth and community settings.
The Council will also seek to understand what was learned from some of the many resident and community sessions held with residents.
Work to change the law
The Council wrote to or met a number of government ministers to discuss the Child Q case or urge them to make changes including:
- An urgent review of policing guidelines and practices around the strip-searching of children.
- An urgent review of the law to ensure that no child is strip-searched without their parents/guardians being notified.
The Council has demanded that the Met Police self-declare that institutional racism is a consistent factor in the relationship between the police and Black and Global Majority communities.
The Council held a four-day anti-racism staff conference to:
- Understand the ways in which racial-trauma is entangled with distress and hardship.
- Learn correct ways to treat all communities
- Change how it works so it’s informed by the lived experiences of all communities.
Our work has been about long-term change. We have been out there listening to the community, been visible in our leadership, and championed, not just the cause of Child Q, but to make sure what happened to her never happens to another child again.
Many Black and Global Majority parents and children have been triggered. Now, finally they are saying ‘we are being heard’. There is no more room for us to say it’s ‘a journey’, continued work and systemic change is what is needed."
We want to build trust and confidence in the police in the long-term. We are working on that plan. Officers have been working in the community, especially with young people affected by negative policing, and we are developing a strategy. It’s going to be a co-production together with the police, the community and other statutory partners.