Home Politics Black Muslim schoolgirl, 15, ‘left with bruises’ after South London stop and search

Black Muslim schoolgirl, 15, ‘left with bruises’ after South London stop and search

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Black Muslim schoolgirl, 15, ‘left with bruises’ after South London stop and search

Black Muslim schoolgirl, 15, ‘left with bruises’ after South London stop and search. School governor Carina White says the situation shouldn’t have escalated.

A Black school girl was allegedly left with bruises on her arm following a stop and search on a street in South London. The police say they noticed a group of children attempting to open a closed shop shutter and when an officer approached, the children began to walk away. 

Video footage of the encounter in Lambeth was taken by an eyewitness who filmed the Met Police officer then pulling the minor around the pavement with one arm handcuffed, while the rest of the students protested. The school kids then attempted to intervene and could be heard shouting ‘let her go’ as the officer pulled her away from the group. 

As well as pleading for her release, school children could be heard saying “look, she doesn’t have the key” as they attempted to hand the police an object. The video shows the school girl resisting but the officer then proceeding to forcibly take her into a commercial building to conduct a search. The Met has since told MyLondon that no search was carried out. 

In the video, a witness can be heard asking the officer numerous times what powers he has to detain the girl but he does not respond. The police have said that they are under no obligation to respond to the demands of people who gather around them. 

A spokesperson for the Met said: “A 15-year-old girl who had been seen to be trying to open the shutter was stopped and told she was being detained for a search. The purpose of the search was to try to find the item that had been being used to open the shutter. 

“The girl tried to pull away from the officer who was also physically obstructed by a crowd that gathered around him. She was handcuffed in order to prevent her making off and was taken inside a commercial premise away from the crowd so the search could be conducted safely.” 

The Met has stated that police did not proceed with the search as the shop owner did not wish to take the matter further. During the commotion, while handcuffed, the girl’s hijab began to slip. Police say that from the body camera footage her headscarf was already partially removed before the incident began. But school governor at Saint Gabriel’s College in Lambeth, Carina White, says that when she watched the video she was left “raging”. The girl involved was not a pupil at Saint Gabriel’s. 

Carina said: “I was fuming, raging, I had so many questions. There was absolutely no reason whatsoever for that situation to have escalated in the way that it did. And what we now have is the 15-year-old who I can only imagine is probably traumatised from that situation from that experience and is now covered in bruises.” Bruising can be seen on her arm in the video after she is released.

As well as failing to de-escalate the situation, the school governor says that there was a lack of cultural awareness when the girl’s headscarf began to slide back. She said: “It’s Ramadan and Eid is in the next few days. You could clearly see that she has a hijab or headscarf over her hair. And in the process of her trying to get away from the officer or trying to avoid him putting handcuffs on her, her headscarf is falling down. 

“She’s 15, I understand. And you know, that is quite a serious thing for her from a religious and cultural perspective to have her hair be on show to boys that are hanging around and the male officer there. You could also see that she was quite clearly in distress.” 

Carina hosts the podcast Black Mums Upfront where she discusses being a Black parent and issues surrounding inequality. The mum-of-one says that the officer could have dealt with the situation differently and that lessons haven’t been learned since the Child Q case when a 15-year-old girl was strip-searched at a school in Hackney by police while on her period. 

The Londoner said: “Clearly nothing has been learned. Following the Child Q case, the fact that this is a male police officer trying to handcuff a 15-year-old child who is clearly in distress. You have adults that are standing there that are asking and saying, ‘you have not stated on what grounds you are stopping and searching her’. It should not be common practice for children to be handcuffed whilst being stopped and searched. 

“What he could have done is walked away from that situation, de-escalated it, and then attended the school the next day with the body cam footage to show the school and asked to identify that child, and then speak to her and ascertain exactly what they were doing.”

She says she believes the children were worried about the 15-year-old girl as they attempted to intervene in the stop and search. Carina said: “Of course, they want to make sure she’s okay. Given that this is off the back of Child Q, of course, people are going to be worried and they want to make sure that she’s okay.”

Author: Andrew Collins

andrewc@gmail.com

London, UK