An investigation has been launched into a mother’s claims that her 14-year-old autistic daughter was strip-searched by Metropolitan Police officers
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
A 14-year-old girl was left traumatized and suicidal after she was strip-searched by Met Police, according to her mum.
The girl’s mother claims her 14-year-old autistic daughter was strip-searched by Metropolitan Police officers.
An investigation has been launched after the force confirmed the mum had made a complaint after she said the teenager was left traumatized and tried to kill herself.
The mixed-race girl, whom the broadcaster referred to as “Olivia”, was said to have been out with friends when they argued.
The two boys phoned the police alleging that the group had attempted to rob them at knifepoint.
The report comes after a backlash over revelations that a 15-year-old girl, known as Child Q, was strip-searched by female Metropolitan Police officers in 2020 in the knowledge she was menstruating – after she was wrongly suspected of carrying cannabis at her east London school.
Olivia’s mother, whom the BBC referred to as “Lisa”, told BBC Radio 4’s File On 4 program that officers searched Olivia and her friends at the scene and the group were arrested in December 2020.
Lisa said she told the officers on the phone that her daughter had autism and learning difficulties, and had been self-harming.
Olivia was held in custody for more than 20 hours before being found to be in possession of a sharpened stick, which her mother said was for the purpose of self-harming.
The discovery, Lisa said, prompted six officers to forcibly strip Olivia and carry out an intimate search in the presence of male police.
The youngster was then handcuffed and strip-searched, Lisa said.
The mum said: “Olivia was actually on her period at the time too. And they cut off her underwear in front of these grown male officers.”
“She was absolutely distracted.”
Lisa told the broadcaster the experience had a devastating impact on her daughter’s mental health.
She added: “She spent a lot of time in her room and she continued to self-harm in secret.
“And then, a few weeks later, she attempted suicide.”
The BBC reported Olivia later appeared in court accused of possession of a bladed weapon and was found not guilty.
Her family are bringing a civil case against the Met and are being represented by lawyer Gail Hadfield Granger, who has been contacted for comment.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “We have received a complaint from the girl’s mother, which is currently under investigation.
“We have also received notification of a potential civil claim and therefore are unable to comment further at this stage.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor told File On 4 that strip-searches help to keep children safe while in custody.
He said: “(The) worst-case scenario would be that we stop strip-searching in its entirety and a young child dies in custody because they are in possession of a knife or drugs that they use to harm themselves.”
When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at [email protected], or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.