By Imani Mason-Jordan & André Gomes / TalkingDrugs / Release

In March 2022, the revelation that a 15-year-old Black pupil had been strip-searched by police in a London school after being wrongly accused of having drugs in her possession sent shockwaves across the United Kingdom – and for good reason.

Everything about the 2020 incident is absolutely harrowing. An independent child safeguarding report found that her own teachers called the police on the young girl after suspecting she may be carrying cannabis. Once they arrived at the school, Metropolitan police officers took the girl into a medical room and strip-searched her without appropriate supervision, despite being aware that she was menstruating. After the invasive and traumatising search, she was asked to “go back into the exam” she had been sitting, with no teacher asking about her welfare.

The safeguarding report concluded that the treatment of the child was unjustified and racism was “likely” a reason why she was strip-searched in the first place.

While the trauma inflicted on Child Q understandably shocked the nation, the actions of the police in this case can hardly be considered an anomaly. It is well known that communities of colour are disproportionally policed in the UK, and British police commonly respond to alleged drug offences – especially when the suspect is a person of colour – with violence.