There has been shock and outrage from across the local community at the treatment of the black female child known as Child Q, and her family, by a Hackney school and the Metropolitan Police. You can read the Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review Report published in March can be found here. It recognizes the impact of her ethnicity on the treatment she received.

Several protests and rallies have been held, including one at Hackney Town Hall on the 20th March. Bishop Joanne attended, along with many church people and leaders, and heard people’s fury and sorrow at what Child Q and her family had experienced, with an awareness of the disproportionate use of strip search on Black and Global Majority Heritage children and adults by the police in London, and of other concerns about racism within the education system. “No peace without justice” was a repeated refrain.

Although the incident did not take place in a church school, what happened needs to provoke reflection and action within churches and schools within the Diocese of London. Hackney and Islington Citizens brought together church and community leaders to produce a statement in response to the case. The head of the London Diocesan Board of Schools, Penny Roberts, has taken initial soundings from church school heads about their policy and practice to be assured that they would not act in the way that other teachers did in relation to Child Q. The racial justice priority group for the Diocese of London has met to discern how it might work more closely with the London Diocesan Board of Schools to promote anti-racism in our schools, churches, and communities. Hackney Deanery is preparing a question for the Diocesan Synod this summer, to ask the Diocese to consider data from our own schools about police contact and strip searches, and to provide assurance that similar actions could not take place within diocesan schools.

These are just initial steps: more must follow. To learn more about the work of the diocesan Racial Justice Priority Group, please see the priority’s web pages. You can also sign up there for the racial justice prayer network.