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Keith Jarrett, President of the National Black Police Association makes a speech today in which he will call for greater use by the police of their powers of stop and search. TMP asked a few people what they thought of the idea.
Michael Eboda, Editor, New Nation
”The facts here speak for themselves. Stop and search does not work, all it does is criminalise and antagonise the wrong people. The way to stop gun and gang crime is by intelligence-led policing. Ironically, before the NBPA President put his foot in it, the police were actually talking about using some of the high-tech surveillance methods to fight gangs that they use to fight terrorism. That is the way forward.”
Cllr Patrick Vernon, Hackney
“As a Councillor in the Queensbridge Ward in Hackney (and having lived in the so called ‘Murder Mile’ area in Clapton), I have witnessed over the last few years the impact of murders and fatal wounding in the borough. I have attended numerous community events, as well as speaking to families who have been the victims of gun and knife crime. There is a clear sense in the black community that the Police are already extensively and perhaps over reached in using stop and search powers. As a former Chair of The Westminster Partnership for Race Equality, this was also a view from the black community in this borough and increasingly with the Muslim community.
We all recognised that Stop and Search is important and is needed as a tool for the Police to be effective in the war against gun crime and terrorism. However, there is a clear difference in strategically targeting known suspects and a carpet blanket approach to black young people who happen to fit in to a racial or religious bench mark profiling system.
We all want safer neighbourhoods and the Community Safety teams in Hackney are a playing an important role in building on the relationship and consensus between local people and the police. The Community Action Panels are a good way to develop shared views with the police on how to target resources and priorities in local communities. Nevertheless, the feedback I pick up on the Holly Street area (which witnessed a horrific murder of Steven Nyembo-Ya-Muteba, who was stabbed in the back by young people on a stairwell over 12 months ago ) relates to the speed and response rate of 999 calls, along with the need to create a space/environment where people can give evidence to the police of known suspects/ perpetrators with the full backing and protection of the Police (to prevent future reprisals and victimisation by associates or gangs).
I was supporting one family who have fled their home as a result to the activities of a gang who had threaten them not to potentially give any evidence to the police regarding an assault and criminal damage to a mother’s young son. I tried to convince her to attend a police I.D. parade (also I offered to attend as support) but she did not have the confidence that she would be supported all the way by the Police if she did identified the perpetrators. For me this is the real issue regarding the Police and not the debate around stop and search even though it is important.
There are too many unsolved cases and low clear rate connected with victims of gun and knife crime. Also families need additional support and in criminal proceedings we need to be more sympathetic to the feelings of families. A number of families have started to develop their own solutions and ways of engaging with young people around the current climate. The media creates a sense of helpless within the black community that we have no ideas, leaders or vision for our young people.
The phrase ‘Policing by Consent was used by the Met as a buzz word in the 1980s.Today it should ‘Policing by Mutual Cooperation’. This requires the Police to be respectful and culturally aware of how they interact and engage with young people black and Muslim people. But also this means that within the black community we need stand up to the growing and sophisticated process of recruitment, training, and loyalty branding that gangs are using, similar to the customer satisfaction processes used by major retailers.
As we move towards 2008 and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Windrush we need to build on the foundations of our elders which played an important role in the reconstruction of Britain and who challenge and influence the nature of the ‘colour bar’ and race relations. We need to tell these stories and narratives as a process of engaging with young people and for society as a whole to recognise that the stop and search issue has always been a legacy of slavery and colonisation. We need to rise to the challenge and tackle the root causes and make the police more accountable to the community.”
The 1990 Trust
“The 1990 Trust is alarmed at what appears to be a simplistic approach to a very complicated phenomenon. The 1990 Trust reiterates its position that calls for an intelligence-led approach that ensures that there is no wholesale strategy that criminalizes every black person. We are very conscious that the existing relationship between black communities and the police should not be jeopardised any further by a knee jerk reaction to what is a crucial development that is devastating the communities.
The 1990 Trust wishes to point out that historically the discriminate use of SUS laws and its current version of indiscriminate stop-and-search has the tendency of generating frosty relations including culmination into riots and is keen to avoid a recurrence.
Koku Adomdza, Director of the 1990 Trust suggests that ‘what is required is a careful examination of the totality of the root causes that crystallize in youth murders. Such critical assessment should include an investigation of how the guns and knifes are imported into the UK or manufactured within the UK, and how they find their way into the black communities and more crucially into the hands of vulnerable youth.”
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