'Hearings must be conducted in the swiftest possible timeframe': Council responds to IOPC investigation into Child Q police officers

Town Hall 1

The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), which examines the most serious and sensitive complaints and conduct matters involving the police, has today announced the completion of its investigation into the four police officers involved in the stripsearch of Black Hackney schoolgirl, Child Q. 

It determined that three officers should face gross misconduct hearings for potential breaches of police standards. This includes allegations that Child Q was discriminated against by them because of her race and sex. They face a series of other allegations too. 

A fourth officer, a police constable, will face a misconduct meeting relating to there being no appropriate adult present during the stripsearch.

Detective Chief Supt James Conway, Hackney’s highest-ranking police officer, has said it is now for a hearing panel to determine whether the matters against the three officers facing gross misconduct charges are proven.

Wider, the IOPC is also calling for a ‘substantial review of policing powers’ relating to the stripsearches of children in order to improve safeguarding and prioritise the welfare of children.

The IOPC action was brought following self-referral by the police. 

It follows a Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review initiated by the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership (CHSCP) led by Independent Chair Jim Gamble. 

The review concluded in March 2022 that Child Q should never have been stripsearched, and found that racism was likely to have been an ‘influencing factor’ in the police officers’ actions that day. 

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Statutory Deputy Mayor of Hackney Council; and Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas OBE, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, have released this joint statement:

“We strongly welcome the recommendations by the IOPC and the commitment by Hackney Police to bring gross misconduct hearings against the officers who caused the unnecessary and racially-motivated suffering and humiliation of a Black Hackney child. 

“We are also pleased a fourth officer faces a misconduct meeting.  

“Further, we hope that the laws that govern the stripsearching of children will be strengthened, as the IOPC is calling for, to ensure the experience of Child Q - and other children subject to unjustified and disproportionate police practices - can never happen again.   

“While we respect that disciplinary processes must be followed, we now urge, in the strongest terms, that these hearings are conducted in the swiftest possible timeframe, because the community - and more importantly Child Q and her family - have already been waiting too long for a resolution.

“The Council has provided and continues to provide ongoing support to Child Q and her family. We think of them in light of these new developments and as they once again come under the national gaze.

“The Council remains committed to playing its part in bridging the gap between the police and the people of Hackney. It has been doing so by ensuring communities most affected by racism in policing - and Child Q’s experience - are at the forefront of that change, through a series of workshops, events, discussions and other community engagement 

“It is also committed to ongoing facilitation and leadership in the Hackney policing action plan - co-produced by the community, Council and police - to help rebuild trust in the service locally.

“The Council recognises a real step-change at senior leadership level to how it deals with issues of race and community engagement  We have also seen an openness from the police to feedback and challenge from our communities.

“And in July, a new community scrutiny panel, made up of 15 community members from different backgrounds and ages was launched in Hackney Town Hall by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).

“This group will hold the police to account for their use of powers, such as stripsearches, handcuffing, stop-and-search, and the use of tasers, and also review police data, decisions and practices.

“The Council too is recommitted to being an actively anti-racist organisation. This means not only challenging racism and injustice where we see and find it in the spheres within which we have influence and reach - but applying a rigorous interrogation of our own systems to flush out the racism and racist practices within. 

“Lastly, the Council and the local police have only limited powers. That’s why, to ensure the safety of all Hackney residents, all Londoners - and especially our Black and Global Majority communities - we again urge the leadership of the Metropolitan Police to define the organisation as institutionally racist. Only then can wider and lasting change begin.”