'Proof Black children are more aggressively, excessively and disproportionately policed': Council responds to stripsearching report

Dame De Souza this week released the findings of her report into the strip-searching of children by police officers. The review was prompted by the strip-search of Hackney schoolgirl, Child Q, in school in 2020.

She found: 

  • More than 2,840 children - some as young as eight - were strip-searched by police in England and Wales between 2018 and 2022.
  • Black children were up to six times more likely to be searched compared to national population figures 
  • More than half of the searches took place without an appropriate adult present - a legal requirement, except when there is serious risk to a child's life or welfare.
  • Fifty-one percent of searches led to no further action.

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville; Deputy Mayor of Hackney Cllr Anntoinette Bramble; and Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas OBE, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, respond:  

“Dame De Souza’s findings will come as no surprise to the people of Hackney, in particular, our Black and Global Majority residents. They confirm what they - and we - already know: that Black children are more aggressively, excessively and disproportionately policed. That they are wrongly criminalised. And that they are viewed, by police, through an adult lens, and not as the children they are. 

“Most damning of all, the report found ‘growing evidence that children are being failed by those whose job it is to protect them’.

“This evidence, just days after the findings made by Baroness Casey, demonstrates irrefutably that policing has a problem; the Metropolitan Police harbours officers who are overtly racist and, as an organisation, is institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic. Meanwhile, good officers have not always had the support or opportunity to create the necessary change.

“Adultification of Black and Global Majority children and the disproportionate experiences and outcomes that they experience is one appalling consequence of this.

“We welcome the many recommendations made within the De Souza report, in particular her calls to the Home Office to strengthen the statutory safeguards for children strip-searched by police. This echoes our own demands of the Government and the Metropolitan Police in the wake of Child Q.

“The appalling stripsearch and treatment of Child Q was a watershed moment in Hackney; and we continue to recognise the distress and trauma caused to Child Q, her family and those close to her, and we remain in regular contact to continue to support them. 

“We recognise, too, the traumatising, retraumatising and triggering effects the details of the case has had on Black and Global Majority communities.

“An independent review into the stripsearch of Child Q - led by the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Panel (CHSCP) - made 14 recommendations to ensure children are protected in future, with a focus on Black and Global Majority children. 

“While the Council was not named in any of these recommendations, from the outset, the Council understood it occupied a unique and powerful position to act as a driving force in many aspects of the response, with a focus on work with police, schools, the community, and regional and national government. 

“As a result, we developed a whole-system plan in order to implement the recommendations made by the CHSCP to ensure the work by partners, including the police, leads to real change; to capture and understand, from the community, issues around systemic, institutional and other forms of racism and bias so we can make effective changes; to respond to the impact of the Child Q report on communities and staff; and to put pressure on the Government to make changes in the law to ensure children are better protected in future.

“As part of this, we led the urgent revision of how safer schools police officers operate in schools and the protocols around police school visits. As a result, a local protocol is being developed, with input from schools, police and young people; and agreement has been reached with local police that arrests will not take place on school sites except in exceptional circumstances. 

“We established a Trust and Confidence in Policing Working Group – involving the community, Council and the police – to work together on anti-racism, police leadership, culture and practice, collaboration and engagement, disproportionality and community monitoring, including ‘Stop & Search’; and police training. 

“We have written or met Government ministers to lobby them to make changes, including an urgent review of policing guidelines and practices around the strip-searching of children; and of the law to ensure that no child is strip-searched without their parents/guardians being notified.

“Within schools, we have supported spaces and provided material on talking to and listening to children and staff affected by racism; we 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. We also significantly expanded adultification training and made it available to all schools.

“The CHSCP have led - on behalf of the Council - the adultification training of 435 practitioners, including local police officers, over 28 sessions in the past 12 months. 

“Hackney will be one of the first local authorities in London to trial the new MOPAC local scrutiny scheme, with police, Council, community and MOPAC working together to build a more representative Local Policing Scrutiny Panel in the borough.

"We will continue our work locally to help rebuild trust and confidence in the service, including through the development of a local policing action plan - co-produced by the Council, community and police.

“We want to assure residents that our work will be relentless to ensure that never again will any Black and Global Majority child experience racial trauma or abuse in a space in which they are meant to feel safe and should have been protected; that there is true equality in our borough more widely; and that racism in all its forms and manifestations is stamped out here once and for all.”

You can review the Council’s anti-racism journey and all the work it has undertaken following the Child Q review here