Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

"The terrible treatment of Child Q raises serious questions about safeguarding in schools, the relationship between the police and young people and what role police should have in our schools. It also calls into question under what circumstances should police be called to deal with behaviour issues.

"Young people should be safe in schools, safe from their peers, from staff and from any adult representing an outside agency. For Child Q in December 2019, that simple truth clearly did not apply. We must absolutely learn the lessons in order that this does not happen again. 

“The Howard League for Penal Reform have published worrying research which found that young people in contact with the justice system report that the police are not seen as caring about young people or respecting them. StopWatch UK report findings of the 5,279 children searched after arrest in the past three years. 3,939 (75%) were from Black or minority ethnic backgrounds. Sixteen of them were aged between 10 and 12 years old. How many more, who haven’t been arrested, like Child Q, have also been strip searched? These types of searches are dehumanising and deeply traumatising – how can we expect our children to feel like they belong, to feel ok to learn, to be their best selves?  

“This has to stop and the NEU is calling on the police to stop searching children and on the Government to consult widely about revised behaviour guidance, which has child safeguarding front and centre".  


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  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.