Bindmans LLP acted for Ahmed (not the child’s real name), who, now aged 18, was a 12-year-old survivor of rape, in successful civil claims and complaints against the Metropolitan Police following their investigative failures and unlawful treatment of a minor.
Metropolitan Police officers repeatedly attended Ahmed’s school without warning, they interviewed him without his parents’ consent, interrogated the contents of Ahmed’s mobile phone without his consent, and shared extremely sensitive material from Ahmed’s mobile phone with Ahmed’s teaching staff and family.
Separately the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) directed that a trawl through all of Ahmed’s mobile phone data would be required before a charging decision of the perpetrator could be made. This meant obtaining and reviewing 40,000 files of Ahmed’s digital data. This was despite the fact that the suspect handed himself into the police for the rape of a minor. Once he had admitted the acts the suspect had no defence available to him. Following a pre-action letter for judicial review sent by Bindmans the perpetrator was finally charged and convicted.
Bindmans represented Ahmed in relation to:
- A proposed judicial review of the CPS’s delay in charging the suspect due to their direction that all of Ahmed’s mobile phone data should be reviewed.
- An Appeal of the original police complaint findings. The re-investigation resulted in all six of Ahmed’s complaints being upheld. The police now accept that they unlawfully questioned Ahmed (without his parents’ knowledge or consent), acted unlawfully in seizing his mobile phone and sharing its contents with teaching staff and family, and that Ahmed was discriminated against on the grounds of his age.
- An Informationation Commissioners Office (ICO) inquiry into the protection of digital data pertaining to complainants of sexual violence whilst they seek criminal justice against their perpetrators. An individual inquiry was launched into Ahmed’s case, which has concluded and has resulted in the ICO issuing both the CPS and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) with reprimands that they had infringed the Data Protection Act 2018.
- Successful civil claims against the MPS for breaches of their investigative duty under Article 3, breaches of Article 8 and Article 14, as well as the Data Protection Act 1998, now concluded.
Rachel Harger, solicitor at Bindmans who represented Ahmed, comments:
Metropolitan Police Officers failed to properly recognise and treat Ahmed as a child from the moment they made initial contact with him. This was reflected in their blatant disregard of Ahmed’s rights as a child during their initial meetings, and their failures to afford him greater support and protection than an adult survivor may require, including proper safeguarding. These failures were also reflected in the police’s relentless insistence that Ahmed’s mobile phone data needed to be obtained and reviewed in full before a charging decision could be made against an adult perpetrator who had already admitted guilt. Ahmed being under the age of 13 meant that there was no defence of reasonable belief in consent and therefore his case should have been treated differently from an adult. A discrimination claim on the grounds of age can be brought from this type of unjustified failure to treat a child differently to an adult.
The police’s failure to properly recognise and treat Ahmed as a child is not isolated – it is systemic across public bodies – from racialised criminal suspects, survivors of sexual/violent offences, to those arriving unaccompanied on British shores. There is seemingly a total failure by the state, sometimes a total resistance by authorities like the Home Office and local councils, to properly recognise racialised children as ‘children’ and in turn afford them the proper protection and safeguarding that these children are entitled to.
Daniel Clarke or Doughty Street Chambers was also instructed on this matter.
This case was covered by Aamna Mohdin, community affairs correspondent for the Guardian, the full article can be read here.