Call for investigation into Surrey school after black pupil suffers racist assault | UK news

MPs have called for an investigation into a school after a black pupil was the victim of a serious suspected racist assault.

Janet Daby, who represents Lewisham East, said that Thomas Knyvett College in Ashford, Surrey, should be investigated after footage showed a girl being punched, kicked and having her hair pulled on Monday.

The altercation later ended up in the road, where she was attacked by a group of children.

Four people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted racially aggravated grievous bodily harm (GBH); a 39-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl and two 11-year-old girls.

The 39-year-old woman, and a 43-year-old man, were also arrested on suspicion of child neglect and intentionally encouraging and assisting the commission of an indictable-only offence.

The 16-year-old girl was also arrested on suspicion of malicious communications. A 15-year-old girl has been urged to hand herself in.

It led to protests outside the school in Ashford amid concern that it did not do enough to protect the pupil.

People protesting outside Thomas Knyvett College on Wednesday after Monday’s attack. Photograph: Thabo Jaiyesimi/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

Daby said she had lost sleep after seeing the footage. She, along with more than 30 MPs from five parties in Westminster, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, women and equalities select committee chair Caroline Nokes and Green party MP Caroline Lucas, have written to the home secretary asking for the school’s response to be assessed “immediately”.

They also criticised Surrey police’s description of it as a “fight between a group of girls”, and asked for details on safeguarding procedures for black, Asian and minority ethnic pupils, as well as what training staff get on racism in schools.

In the letter, the MPs said: “Given that this attack is potentially racially motivated, the description of this incident by Surrey police as a ‘fight between a group of girls’ wrongly misrepresents the seriousness of the incident and the impact such language may have on the black community.

“We therefore ask what discussions [the Home Office] has had with Surrey police regarding this description and that this is corrected as a matter of urgency.”

The Guardian has approached Surrey police for comment.

Principal Richard Beeston wrote to parents at the secondary school on Thursday. In a letter shared by the school on Twitter, he said: “We can assure you we are taking all necessary steps to ensure this isolated incident is dealt with and that student safety is our paramount concern.”

Police have asked people to stop sharing footage of the attack. Those arrested have been bailed until a date in March.

Ch Insp Dallas McDermott said: “We know this will be concerning and upsetting for the victims, their friends and family, and for the wider community who are understandably shocked and outraged at the violence in this video.

“I want to make clear that the suspects being bailed does not mean justice won’t be pursued further or achieved.”

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