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Acting Commissioner says Child Q “clearly should not have happened”

Sir Stephen House said strip search training and protocols had been "vigorously refreshed" in wake of the case

Sir Stephen House told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee that he was unable to comment on the strip search case that came to light this week and that the facts are still to be determined.

However, he said that “Child Q should not have happened, we were clear about that from the very early days of that, the officers did not follow their training, did not follow guidance”.

The IOPC report on the case in which officers were called to a school to search a pupil who was suspected of drugs possession is yet to be published. Four of his officers are currently under investigation.

Following the publication of the safeguarding report in March of this year, the Met did issue an apology in relation to the incident.

Commander Dr Alison Heydari of the Met’s Frontline Policing said: “We are in full agreement with the Safeguarding Review that this incident should never have happened. It is truly regrettable and on behalf of the Met I reiterate our apology to the child concerned, her family and the wider community.”

Today A/Commissioner House told the London Assembly Police and Crime Panel: “We have refreshed very vigorously, inside the organisation, the awareness and training for the sort of searches you are talking about.

“It’s absolutely clear that they can only be carried out with officer of the same sex present, no one from the opposite gender should be present at all and that an appropriate adult should be in the same room.

“We have a very clear checklist down to how the officer carries out the search physically.

“They are allowed to stoop to look but they are not allowed to bend down. It goes to that level of detail to try to reduce any intrusion.

“In terms of young women and girls being subjected to these searches, we are talking about a handful each year.

“Why do we do that- we do it to keep that individual safe and to keep officers safe as well.”

When asked by a panel member whether we should be expecting more of these types of cases to come to light, he responded “Yes, there’s one more that I’m aware of that I simply can’t talk about at the moment.”

The panel further asked questions on the use of stop and search, with both Acting Commissioner Stephen House and Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden standing behind the power.

A/Commissioner House said: “The national learning report was very helpful.

“We’ve made a number of changes in terms of our use of force and you’ll be aware of our review of handcuffing.”

He cited other changes the force has made including emails sent to individuals with a copy of the stop and search details and put in an automatic link between the stop and search form and a use of force form.

“We look at the number of officers doing stop and search and we also challenge those who aren’t doing very many and the reason for that is if they aren’t doing very many, or none, when they do one chances are they’ll probably not be as professional as we want them to be.

“We want people doing them regularly and doing them well.”

The Deputy Mayor supported A/Commissioner House’s points, saying she would like to see the positive outcome rate “a bit higher” but that “400 weapons of the streets [per month] was not to be sneezed at.”

Later, referring to the Bianca Williams case, A/Commissioner House said: “My worry [about all the investigations] is that this puts officers off doing stop and search and we’ve just had a long debate about the value of doing stop and search and it’s that balance that we have to find as leaders in the organisation. We accept fully that the IOPC have a job to do and we support them doing it.”

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