MPs urge home secretary to ensure ‘justice is served’ following ‘horrific’ attack on Black schoolgirl
A cross-party group of MPs have urged the home secretary to ensure “justice is served” over an alleged racially aggravated attack on a Black schoolgirl in Surrey.
The policitians have asked Suella Braverman to ensure “every possible action” is taken to investigate after a 15-year-old was injured in a “horrific” assault near Thomas Knyvett College, in Ashford, on Monday.
Some 32 MPs also want Ms Braverman to give further information on what safeguarding practices are in place for Black, Asian and ethnic minority students at risk of racist abuse. Police are investigating the attack, which was shared widely on social media.
Labour MP Janet Daby, chair of the all-party parlimentary group (APPG) on children in police custody, who wrote the letter, told The Independent it was “one of the most horrific incidents” she had been made aware of in her career.
She also said she has concerns about the school’s conduct, as well as “the apathy of bystanders watching events unfold without taking action”.
Outlining allegations that the attack was racially motivated, the letter reads: “This is naturally incredibly concerning, in particular given the risk of community tensions in Ashford being inflamed and the impact this incident will have on the Black community in the United Kingdom more widely.”
It goes on: “Above all, the child victim and her family must be reassured that justice will be served.”
The MPs also warn that the police’s description of the incident as a ‘fight between a group of girls’ “worryingly misrepresents the seriousness of the incident and the impact such language may have on the Black community in Ashford and across the country.”
Some of the letter signatories include Labour MP Dawn Butler, Tory MP Robert Goodwill, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and SNP and Lib Dem MPs.
The letter comes after local MP Kwasi Kwarteng encouraged people to come forward with information about the attack.
“I’m shocked and saddened to hear about the recent assault on a teenage victim in Ashford,” he tweeted on Wednesday evening. “It is vital that children are safe at school and in their local community. I understand that Surrey Police have made several arrests and I encourage anyone with evidence to come forward.”
Kim Johnson, a member of the APPG for race and community, condemned the attack, adding that it is “shameful that members of the public stood by”. “It is why I will continue to call for an enquiry into race in education,” he said.
Police officers were called to nearby the school following reports of a fight at around 2.30pm.
A second victim, a 15-year-old white student, was also attacked but this cannot be seen in the footage.
In total, five people were arrested in connection with the incident. A 39-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl, an 11-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated GHB. The woman and a 43-year-old man were arrested under suspicion of child neglect and encouraging an offence to be committed, Surrey Police said.
All those arrested have since been released on conditional bail until a date in March.
A protest about the attack took place outside the school on Wednesday afternoon, and The Independent understands that this prompted staff members to end the school day earlier than usual.
Richard Beeson, the principal at Thomas Knyvett College, described the beating as a “violent altercation” and an “isolated” incident in a statement on Wednesday.
“We are aware that the incident will have caused concern among students and parents/carers,” he said. “We can reassure you that we are taking all the necessary steps to ensure this isolated incident is dealt with and that student safety is our paramount concern.”