A cross-party group of MPs have urged the home secretary to ensure “justice is served” after a black schoolgirl was assaulted by a group.
The teenager, 15, was set upon by several people outside Thomas Knyvett College in Ashford, Surrey, on Monday afternoon, in what police are treating as a “racially aggravated” attack.
“Shocking” footage circulating online shows the victim being punched and kicked, as well as having her braids pulled from her head as onlookers can be heard shouting “kick her in the face”.
Police said more than 50 officers have been investigating the incident or engaging with the community in Ashford over the last three days.
A 39-year-old woman and a 43-year-old man have been arrested on suspicion of child neglect and intentionally encouraging and assisting the commission of an indictable only offence.
The same 39-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl, and two 11-year-old girls were arrested on suspicion of attempted racially aggravated grievous bodily harm (GBH). In addition, the 16-year-old girl was also arrested on suspicion of malicious communications.
All those arrested have now been released on conditional bail until a date in March.
Meanwhile, officers said they are also seeking another 15-year-old girl in connection with the attack.
The assault has led to public outcry, with protesters gathering outside the school on Wednesday and British rapper Dave calling for all staff featured in the video to be sacked.
Around 30 cross-party MPs have now signed a letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, calling for the school’s response to be “evaluated immediately”.
The letter, penned by Labour MP for Lewisham East Janet Daby, says: “Reports circulating online and on social media indicate that a number of people, including staff from the school, watched on without acting and failed to disperse onlookers during the incident.
“This bystander apathy follows reports that the school failed to take action against the racist abuse of the victim in the days leading up to the incident.
“If accurate, this inadequate response is cause for considerable concern for the safeguarding of students, in particular black, Asian and ethnic minority students, at the school.
“This would merit urgent scrutiny and we encourage you to liaise with the Education Secretary in relation to this.”
MPs also asked if support is being made available to the victim, who is said to be barely eating or talking, saying she must be reassured that every action is being taken to investigate the incident so “justice will be served.”
Politicians who signed the letter include former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Tory MP Robert Goodwill, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas as well as SNP and Lib Dem MPs.
Raising the incident in the House of Commons on Thursday lunchtime, Ms Daby she said she had “lost sleep” over Monday’s “horrific” attack and said while a police investigation is under way “it’s the responsibility of the local government and central government that this incident is being investigated fully”.
“This has torn through the heart of so many communities, and communities are in pain and outraged because of what’s happening,” she said.
Image: Police say the attack was “racially aggravated” Pic: Twitter In the harrowing two-minute video clip of the attack, passers-by can be seen watching the events unfold but appearing not to intervene.
The assault ends when the principal of the school, Richard Beeson, and another man appear at the scene and Mr Beeson asks: “Can we let go please? Thank you.”
Thousands of people have signed a Change.org petition criticising the school’s response, while dozens attended a protest at the school on Wednesday afternoon.
Ange Elliott, a cousin of the victim, told Sky News the young girl is barely eating or talking and her body is sore
“They took nine braids – when you look [at her scalp] you can see the dots where the braids came out,” she said.
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“Two minutes – two minutes and nobody came out, that’s the main painful part for me,” she added.
In a statement on its website, The Howard Partnership Trust that runs the school said the welfare and care of the victim is “uppermost in our thoughts”.
“We are taking this situation extremely seriously and are working with all agencies involved.
“We need to ask for calm and patience while vital work is undertaken to establish the facts.”
Chief Inspector Dallas McDermott of Surrey Police 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. Officers and staff working on this case have found the footage as distressing as the public have.
“I can assure you the speed and vigour with which we are working to build this investigation has not wavered. We will be issuing updates as and when we can.”
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.