By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2797

Furious demonstration in Hackney over cops’ strip-search of black child

Police should not be harassing children
Issue 2797
Dozens of protesters at Hackney police station with placards denouncing police racism

Anger at the Hackney police on Friday (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Around 500 angry protesters joined a protest outside Stoke Newington police station in Hackney, east London, after a safeguarding report revealed cops strip-searched a black child at a school. 

The outrageous incident, which took place in 2020, caused lasting emotional damage and led to the girl self-harming. The girl’s maternal aunt was quoted as saying the pupil had changed from “top of the class” to “a shell of her former bubbly self”.

Teachers at her school called the Met Police after wrongly suspecting her of carrying cannabis. Activists blocked the road outside the police station carrying banners that read “No police in schools” and “Black children are not safe in schools.” 

Speakers took to the mic to call for police accountability and for the police officers to face justice. Student Emily said that she feels “scared” about what could happen at her school. “It’s nerve-wracking to know that what happened to this girl could easily happen to us,” she said. 

Megan, also a school student, added, “School is meant to be our safe space. We shouldn’t be scared of the people that say they are trying to help us.”

Emily added that many students at her school were outraged by the incident and wanted to join the protest. And she argued, “The police should just not be in our schools.” On Friday pupils at Petchey Academy in Hackney protested over the case during a school assembly.

Activist Alice told Socialist Worker that this incident shows a “lack of humanity”. “Black children face so many different types of violence from the police, nowhere is safe for them,” she said.

She said that the child—known as Child Q—“was completely traumatised, but no one cared. I think the police would rather the incident had gone unnoticed.” 

She added, “The Tories are getting rid of youth centres where young people can feel safe. Their attacks have to be seen as part of a broader racist assault.”

The report details how “racism (whether deliberate or not) was likely to have been an influencing factor in the decision to undertake a strip search”.

Ifhat from Hackney Stand up to Racism added, “We can’t expect better from the cops. They don’t care about black children. But also there was a significant safeguarding issue in the school that needs to be addressed.”

Lone black child stands outside police station bedecked with slogans such as 'You cannot reform this'

‘You cannot reform this’ (Pic: Guy Smallman)

“The idea that black children should automatically be viewed with suspicion is a racist assumption that has no place in schools.  Why can children be strip-searched in the first place?”  Over 9,000 children were strip-searched by the Met police in the last five years, 35 of those were under twelve.

Members of the NEU union also attended the protest. David Davies, branch secretary of Hackney NEU, told Socialist Worker, “Firstly there should have been no justification for the police to be called into school. 

“We need to say to every member of our union that an appropriate adult should always be in the room when the police are with a student because the police cannot be trusted. 

“The first step should never be for teachers to criminalise their pupils. It is also important we look at this as a broader problem. We need to look at how young people are being abused by the police more generally.

“In 1985 we produced a pamphlet in the NEU that concluded that the police should be kept out of schools. Our demands then are very similar to now.” 

This horrific incident is further proof of the endemic racism and misogyny in the police. 

  • Join Stand Up to Racism’s demonstration this weekend. Glasgow and London on Saturday, and in Cardiff on Sunday. For details go here

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance