The primary purpose for the initiative Stop and search is to enable officers to exercise powers to confirm a suspicion without exercising their power of arrest. A stop and search MUST be carried out fairly, responsibly and be seen to be free from discrimination.
Following the rise in street violence, Stop and search is planned to be increased. But why has this created upset within a community crying out to the government to end this crazy bloodshed. The answer lies within the lack of knowledge police have of young people’s rights when carrying out the stop and search initiative.
As well as the limited understanding parents and young people have of their rights upon being stopped and searched. Along with the profiling and biased displayed towards young people from specific social and racial backgrounds.
The police have the right to search you in the event they have reasonable grounds to believe that you have on you any evidence that may be beneficial to an investigation, or suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime. Police can stop you for no reason, but do not have the authority to search you for no reason. You have the right to remain silent, so do not need to give over personal information in such cases, unless the police believe you have committed a crime or are about to commit a crime.
Reasonable suspicion is not grounds for an arrest, however if details during the stop and search provide evidence that a serious crime may be committed, Police have lawful ground to detain you. But the question remains, what does one deem to be fair or reasonable suspicion? Many argue as it is felt that young black youths are the primary target for a stop and search, with statistics stating that black youth’s can be stopped up to three times a day. According to the racial disparity Audit (Last updated March 2018).
In 2016/2017 there were 4 stop and searches for every 1000 white people compared to 29 stop and searches for every 1000 black people.
Black on black crimes are highly covered in the media so we all believe that knife and gun crime only impacts the black community, but how many of us have actually researched statistics to confirm this as fact; Or do we simply analyse the psychological and behavioural characteristics of young black youth, based on media recordings, therefore believing that we can predict the behaviour and capability of every young black male within the community, that embraces an image we have now become conditioned to fear. Upon sight of 2-3 walking together fear of our own, ignorant judgements and conclusions cause us to deem the behaviour as suspicious and therefore compromise their basic human rights.
This power appears to have been placed into the hands of many who have already formed an unconscious bias towards particular social groups in the community, so exercise the power of the stop and search on a platform of profiling and ignorance.
The youth in front of me does not look like me, I do not see myself in him, therefore I am able to detach from his humanity. We can all see how such thought processes can develop, but is this a fair justice system for young people.
As a community, I urge you to educate yourselves and your children, from understanding how their chosen image creates certain perceptions, how behaviour and conduct influences outcomes of interaction and situations.
The message to young people who are stopped by the police is to stay calm, avoid confrontation by using abusive and aggressive language. Enquire as to why you have been stopped and subsequently search. Young people ask the police what exactly they hope to find.
Ensure you obtain a search record called a 5090 and hold onto this slip. In the event it is felt that the search was carried out unlawfully, take a note of the individuals badge number, the date and location of the stop and search, cross reference what is written matches to what you were verbally informed. Sadly the 5090 form only exercises the right to raise a compliant against unlawful stop and searches, it does not protect your rights to raise a complaint against profiling or aggressive and inappropriate behaviour.
A new initiative is being discussed that the record of a stop and search will now be issued via text message. Another concern as this will cause young people to bargain and exchange information simply to obtain details they have a legal right to own. My question is what checks and intel will then be carried out on the number the young person has willingly exchanged.
Remember you do not have to give your personal details such as name and number unless it is suspected you have carried out an offence. Although not complying may cause you to be detained longer. The video recording of your stop and search is held for 30 days in the event you wish to complain and view the footage.
The message to those police, that use their uniform to simply harass and bully. Understand that young people are human beings as yourself, they do not need to look like you, dress like you or even speak like you. However, they have a right to be treated fairly, they have a right to be respected, they have a right to know why they are being stopped, and they have a legal right to be free from your ignorant discriminations. We are not asking for your judgements, but for your protection under the legal restraints of the law.
Many officers take their roles seriously and provide an impeccable service, I know this as I had the pleasure of working with them in Manchester. Sadly, good deeds are often overshadowed by the negative representation of police brutality and ignorance.
We need the police to uphold the law, fairly and firmly to manage crime, at some point in all our lives we will call the police with an expectation they meet our needs and resolve our issue. Police, you need us too, despite our colour, race, age, disability; as we each have something to contribute to society, our tax contributions also help to fund and support your service. Rise up collaboratively and wake up to battles our children face.
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