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Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Standard View: Crossrail – not a Tube line but a game-changer

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London’s new train line — TfL doesn’t want you to call it a Tube — is a game-changer. Boosting capacity by 10 per cent and cutting some journey times by more than half, it demonstrates what is possible when central and local governments work together rather than against one another.

There are still the usual grumbles: on cost, delays and the continued absence of Bond Street station. But those are for another day. Today, we celebrate the capital’s exciting future — and its present.

Questions for the Met

Reports that an autistic 14-year-old girl was strip-searched in the presence of male Metropolitan Police officers have rightly caused outrage and alarm.

Scotland Yard confirmed the girl’s mother has made a complaint after the BBC reported that the teenager, known as ‘Olivia’, was left traumatised and tried to take her own life following the incident, in which her underwear was allegedly cut off by police. It comes after the shocking case of Child Q, a 15-year-old black girl who was removed from an exam when wrongly suspected of possessing cannabis and then strip-searched — while on her period — without an appropriate adult present.

Olivia, who is mixed-race and was also menstruating at the time, was held in custody for over 20 hours before being found to be in possession of a sharpened stick as well as a knife — something her mother says was used for self-harming and which a court later accepted.

Last month, the Standard revealed that hundreds of children — some as young as 10 — had undergone full strip searches by the Met, during which intimate parts can be exposed. The Met had no justification for the way it treated Child Q and faces hard questions over this latest case. As a matter of urgency, we need proper safeguards in place so that vulnerable young people do not face this kind of treatment at the hands of the police.

Equal before the law?

Picture the lockdown scene: bottles on the table and glasses charged in the air. The result? Everyone in the room gets a fine. Not so, it seems, when the party takes place in Downing Street and one of the attendees is Boris Johnson.

Yesterday, the decision by the Met not to fine the Prime Minister for attending parties for which more junior staff were punished seemed a curious one. Today, following the leak of pictures showing Johnson raising a glass at such a gathering, many have been left confounded.

Our Courts Correspondent, Tristan Kirk, has reported throughout the pandemic of the police routinely fining individuals for even minor lockdown breaches, without long pauses for questionnaires.

The public deserves transparency, something wholly lacking throughout this process. Confidence in the police, and the very idea of equality in front of the law, is at stake.

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