Source: United Kingdom London Metropolitan Police
For the past five weeks Met officers have been hosting a summer camp at a school in Brent in which young people aged 12 – 18 years were offered various activities and presentations including one focused on stop and search.
Around 50 students from schools across north-west London took part in the Met-led summer camp held at Newman Catholic College in Harlesden that saw the teens learn valuable life lessons including emergency life-saving skills, crime prevention and sports activities.
The stop and search session was led by Roy Croasdaile MBE, Chair of the Brent Stop and Search Community Monitoring Group, who explained the use of stop and search, the relevant legislation, what to expect during an encounter and how to conduct themselves when stopped before inviting the students to share their experiences about encounters they may have had.
Safer Neighbourhoods’ officers from north-west London then ran through a number of scenarios, where the teens had the opportunity to act as officers conducting stop and searches, with the aim of helping them gain a better understanding of how and why officers carry out this important tactic.
Further information for the young people to take away with them about stop and search and complaint procedures was then shared at the end of the session that reiterated the points made.
Inspector Graig Bradley, a north-west London Schools and Youth Engagement Officer, who helped to organise the summer camp, said: “The feedback from the young people who took part in the session has been very positive. It highlights that not only is it vital for us to engage with young people in our communities to explain the use of stop and search and their rights within an encounter, but there is also a real appetite for it.
“This is just one example of the type of engagement work which is going on in the Met across London. We understand the impact that stop and search has on some individuals and that it can cause concern. I hope we have been able to dispel any ambiguity around this tactic and highlight the positives of its use; including that it detects criminality and removes harmful weapons from the streets.
“Activities like today where officers interact with students in a comfortable setting are a crucial step in building a mutual understanding around stop and search as well as helping to forge better relationships with police which last beyond the length of the summer camp.”
Daniel Patrick Coyle, Head Teacher of Newman Catholic College said: “The Metropolitan Police Service have been running a summer camp at Newman Catholic College in Harlesden for the past five years.
“There have been hundreds of situations over the years where the police have helped and supported the pupils of this school. In many cases this has meant that young people have been kept out of the criminal justice system. In addition, Safer Schools Officers support the delivery of a curriculum on a wide range of social issues from road safety to drug awareness. They are a key element in the life of the school. The summer camp grew out of this relationship.
“This stop and search activity is a further example of how the collaboration between all parties benefits our young people particularly in terms of making the children aware of their rights and responsibilities. An important secondary feature is that police and pupils get to know each other. Potential barriers are broken down on both sides and understanding and respect develops.
“I simply cannot understand why this cost effective, socially beneficial programme cannot be rolled out across the country during the school holidays.”
Chief Superintendent Roy Smith Borough Commander of the North West Basic Command Unit said: “We know that stop and search is under intense scrutiny, rightly so. But we also know that it saves lives and takes dangerous weapons off the streets of London.
“This sort of event that works with young people in partnership is exactly the sort of thing which will help us continue to use our powers in an effective, proportionate and considerate way – and carry on protecting Londoners.
“I am grateful to all those involved – taking time to work with us in a positive way and give feedback to help us continue to improve. This is what policing is all about – the most important ‘Peelian’ principle that “the police are the public and the public are the police.”
The Met is far more accountable than ever before and the use of stop and search powers is rightly subject to scrutiny both internally, and externally through community monitoring groups in every borough of which the feedback helps to make further improvements where needed. The Met welcomes this scrutiny and drives for continual improvement.
Given the positive feedback from the young people that attended the stop and search session, the officers in the north-west will look to repeat the session again.
You can find out more about your rights, what a stop and search involves and how to respond if you are stopped here; https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/st-s/stop-and-search/your-rights-and-responsibilities/