Child Q and that dirty word ‘black’

As black people (particularly those of us brought up in the UK) we continually question whether being black remains a detriment, in the UK.

London, UK - March 18th 2022: Demonstrators hold placards, give speeches and occupy the road outside Stoke Newington Police station in protest at the strip search of black school girl Child Q

Do the same old social, financial, political, criminal issues arise whenever that dirty word ‘black’ is in the equation.


Unfortunately, the answer is ‘yes’.

Child Q, a black teenager who was strip-searched at her school after being wrongly accused of carrying cannabis, is our damning, vindication. The Metropolitan Police once again finds itself in the media for all the wrong reasons. It’s gnarly, grotesque head of institutional racism fully displayed.

While the Metropolitan police try to dismiss this as an anomaly an unfortunate “one-off”, Dame Rachel de Souza Children’s Commissioner today said to Sky News, “I am really shocked and sad to say it is not”.

Yes, we have the usual ‘forensic enquiries’ following incidences like Mark Duggan. Yes, we get the usual apologies. Yes, we get the faces ‘grim’ and incredulous that this could happen. Yes, we get the positive assured words that this will never happen again.

The facts are clear-nothing has essentially changed for black people in terms of the criminal justice system.

In the 90’s I was privy to the Met’s brand of the criminal justice system for blacks on many occasions. The most telling incident concerned me being followed by a van full of white police from Goodmayes Hospital going to Hackney in my ‘nice car’.

I was eventually stopped on the outskirts of Hackney on the A406. Ten police disembarked from the van one spoke to my friend asking who I was where we came from and more. The other nine police surrounded me and gave me a roadside interrogation, frisked me down and attempted to rattle me as much as they could.

When they found no incriminating skunk, learnt that I was an employed man and working in the public services their attitude quickly changed. They reeled off a few stupid jokes and then justified their ‘routine’ stop because I had not stayed in the lines of the lane, I was in. “Have a good day sir”

In this latest case of Child Q I find something so disturbing that far surpasses what I went through. A young female on her period was stripped searched in the most dehumanising and disgusting manner possible.

Far from any form of sensitivity, the police officers acted with the impunity that comes from an adult dealing with a young child. They ignored Appropriate Adult guidelines enshrined in English Law. They imposed their will on a lone, undoubtedly freighted young girl. They [Metropolitan Police]then tried (it would seem) to hopefully brush this “one-off” under the carpet.

But this cannot be brushed under the proverbial Metropolitan Police carpet, discoloured in dark stains, rotten blood, stale vomit, bulging and uneven as different shapes and sizes make it impossible to walk on.

And while Child Q is abhorrent and difficult to fully grasp in its details, the treatment she suffered is it seems the ‘norm’.

Perhaps we will find that in the pending investigations that many young black ladies have been made to drop their knickers filled with their sanitary pad engorged with blood as they stand their naked.

Or perhaps a young male finds himself bent over as a police officer roughly searches his anus while he stands there naked.

Reports state that in 50% of those strip searched no further action was taken. While even more damning, “of the 650 children who were searched in the three years, 19 in every 20 were boys and 58% were described by the officer as being black.”

Of course the counter argument by the Met and perhaps the establishment will be  “the growing knife crime” “the growing drug use” ergo the reason for strip searches.

While there are many, many young black men and young black women who go to university, have great jobs and have never been involved with police, there is a minority of young black youngsters who are involved in criminality. For those young black men and women, we do need an answer, so crime is not the destination. In that answer we have to go to the old African Proverb-“The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.”

Indeed let’s not forget that there will always be mistakes made within any organisation as big as Metropolitan Police. Some of those mistakes are grave leading to someone’s death. Without meaning to minimise (if I am) mistakes, systemic errors and more must be used to improve any service especially public services so it cannot hopefully happen again. There will always be casualties in this process of improving and we cannot avoid that.

But if at the most base the Metropolitan Police cannot treat black people (youngsters) with compassion, dignity, empathy, sympathy and more then being ‘black’ really is a dirty word.

In turn we can look forward to the Metropolitan Police finding many more incidences of institutional racism to brush under their putrid carpet.