London metropolitan police refer cases of child searches to police watchdog

  • London Underground police say they have referred cases of child tracing by officers to a police watchdog.
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan has expressed concern amid these reports.
  • London currently has no Police Commissioner, the latter having resigned in February.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Friday he was “extremely concerned” after the Metropolitan Police revealed seven more referrals related to searches of children had been made to the police watchdog.

The announcement came a day after the same regulatory body said it would re-examine the failed initial treatment of the murder of four young men by a serial killer.

The London force has been rocked in recent years by a succession of incidents involving its officers, including last year when a member of the diplomatic defense team was jailed for kidnapping, rape and murder.

Cressida Dick stepped down as commissioner in February due to a crisis in public confidence in the police. She hasn’t been replaced yet.

The voluntary referrals relate to incidents between December 2019 and March 2022, in which children aged 14 to 17 were searched by officers in custody or subjected to “more intimate searches outside of custody,” police said.

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The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) has returned two of the referrals to the police for its own investigation.

The latest references come after the watchdog got the cases of two teenage girls, known as “Child Q” and “Olivia,” who were searched by officers while they were menstruating.

“It is shocking and deeply disturbing that so many cases of children searched by the police have been referred to the IOPC,” a Khan spokesman said.

“The mayor is deeply concerned about these matters and the Met has been asked by City Hall to review all children’s comic strip studies to ensure lessons are learned.”

“Child Q” was searched by female officers in 2020 after she was falsely suspected of carrying cannabis despite knowing she was menstruating.

“Olivia,” a 15-year-old with autism, was searched in front of male officers after being charged with theft. The BBC reported that she later tried to commit suicide.

Scotland Yard said procedures had changed, with officers now being required to obtain permission from an inspector and have a meeting with a supervisor before conducting such a search.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said police were aware of public concerns about the cases and the effect of such actions on young people.