MET Police have been forced to apologise to a university lecturer after officers mocked her “smelly knickers” and called her “rank”.
Dr Konstancja Duff – an assistant professor of philosophy at Nottingham University – was strip-searched at Stoke Newington police station in 2013.
Dr Konstancja Duff was strip-searched at Stoke Newington police station in 2013Credit: PA:Press Association
CCTV footage shows police officers talking about Dr DuffCredit: Metropolitan Police
She was accused of intervening in the arrest of a 15-year-old boy when she handed him a card listing his legal rights in Hackney, London.
The teen was later found to have a six-inch knife hidden in his sock.
CCTV footage released to The Guardian captured Sergeant Kurtis Howard – who headed up the custody area – ordering officers to use “any means necessary” to search Dr Duff.
He ordered them to “treat her like a terrorist” and show her “resistance is futile”.
Dr Duff had her clothes ripped off her body with scissors by three female officers in a cell, who pinned her down.
Once the search had finished, a policeman outside her cell asks the female officers: “Didn’t find anything untoward on her, ladies?”
One woman replies: “A lot of hair.”
Two police officers are seen searching through Dr Duff’s belongings, before one exclaims: “Sorry, sorry, what’s that smell?”
Another replies: “Oh, it’s her knickers, yeah?”
A third officer adds: “Ugh, I feel disgusting; I’m going to need a shower,” to which a colleague replies: “You need defumigating.”
Dr Duff told The Guardian: “It was such an effective gaslighting: ‘We were just concerned for your mental health, that was why we had to – for your own good – forcibly strip you naked and mash you up’.
“It was so obviously not what they were doing at the time. They were doing it as punishment, they were doing it as intimidation, they wanted to soften me up and get my details.”
Met Police has issued an apology after the CCTV footage emerged – and has promised to compensate Dr Duff.
Inspector Andy O’Donnell – from the Met’s directorate of professional standards – told her: “I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language used about you and for any upset and distress this may have caused.
“I hope that settlement of this claim and this recognition of the impact of what happened that day will enable you to put this incident behind you.”
In 2018, Sgt Howard was cleared of gross misconduct by a disciplinary panel.
He claimed his actions were called for to work out whether Dr Duff was a risk to herself.
It is unclear if any other officers are being investigated, but a probe by the Directorate of Professional Standards is ongoing.