Autistic 14-year-old girl ‘attempted suicide following police strip-search’

·3-min read
Autistic 14-year-old girl ‘attempted suicide following police strip-search’ (PA)
Autistic 14-year-old girl ‘attempted suicide following police strip-search’ (PA)

An investigation has been launched into a mother’s claims that a 14-year-old autistic girl was strip searched by a Metropolitan Police officer.

An investigation has been launched into a mother’s claims that her 14-year-old autistic daughter was strip-searched by Metropolitan Police officers.

The force confirmed that the woman had made a complaint, following a report from the BBC that the teenager was so traumatised she 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 with two boys who phoned police alleging that the group had attempted to rob them at knifepoint.

Child Q was also strip searched in 2020

This report follows backlash over revelations of another 15-year-old girl, known as Child Q, who was strip searched by female Met Police officers in 2020 with the knowledge that she was menstruating.

She had wrongly been accused 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 programme that officers searched Olivia and her friends at the scene and the group were arrested in December 2020.

The Argus: (PA)
The Argus: (PA)

(PA)

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 she was found to be in possession of a sharpened stick. Her mother said this was for the purpose of self-harming.

Lisa said this discovery prompted six police officers to forcibly strip Olivia to carry out an intimate search, while in the presence of male police.

“Olivia was actually on her period at the time too. And they cut off her underwear in front of these grown male officers,” the mother said.

“She was absolutely distraught.”

Lisa told the broadcaster the experience had a devastating impact on her daughter’s mental health.

“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,” she added.

Olivia later appeared in court accused of possession of a bladed weapon and was found not guilty, the BBC reported.

Her family are bringing a civil case against the Met and are being represented by lawyer Gail Hadfield Granger, who has been contacted by the Press Association 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.

“(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,” he said.

Help can be found by calling the Samaritans free of charge at any time, on 116 123 or by email at jo@samaritans.org or visit Samaritans.org.

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