Croydon residents cite trust as an issue as Met seeks feedback about stop and search

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Croydon residents have expressed concerns that the Met is not working fast enough to ‘fix’ stop and search practices in the borough.

This comes as the Met launched a new consultation on attempts to ‘reset’ its relationship with London communities.

School teachers, community leaders and concerned parents gathered at the Croydon Voluntary Action Centre to discuss the controversial police powers with their local Met officers.

Anthony King, who chairs the MyEnds youth programme, hosted the meeting alongside deputy assistant commissioner Ade Adelekan, and other local police officers.

Audience members were keen for the Met to address the recent spike in theft in Croydon, but also wanted officers to do it in a way that respected the diversity of the community.

While the idea of stop and search received some support, concerns over how it was applied took centre stage. Currently, only about 30 per cent of stop and searches result in an arrest or further action.

Youth worker and Croydon resident Neil said: “For me, I feel stop and search is all about the approach. I know this from working with young people. I know young people can be quite big, with 15-year-olds being as tall as adults, but they are still kids and they don’t know how to prepare themselves for that interaction.

“I never had any police come to my school when I was younger, I was just told to stay away from the police. A lot of kids won’t tell their parents they’ve been stopped and searched. They will just ask why and assume you’ve done something wrong. There’s still a big stigma.”

Concern about the stigma that comes with stop and search was shared by many throughout the room. Many felt the trauma of stop and searches on children was intensified by the fact that they felt they couldn’t tell their parents for fear of how they would react.

Vivian, a plumbing engineer and mother of two, said: “I think the trust in authorities is dying out as we go through the generations. So now it’s not as much about respect but more about trying to stay out of the way because the police might set you up.”

When Mr King asked the audience if they believed stop and search was necessary, the room nodded with muffled approval.

One audience member, Tanisha, said: “I think that stop and search is necessary, but I also think we need to look at young people and ask them why they carry knives. I think it’s better that you have more focus groups with young people directly rather than asking them to carry out a survey.”

Residents meet Met reps at the meeting to debate stop and search practices (Picture: Harrison Galliven)

“We can’t just get them to carry out a survey. As adults we look a surveys and think we haven’t got time for that, young people are going to look at a survey and not even read the first line.”

The survey in question forms the first part of the Met’s new charter, which they believe will have a ‘lasting impact on how the Met carries out the tactic to better police London.

Lifelong Croydon resident Clive, said: “The trust in the community is completely shot, and there some really good people in this area who have been overlooked and are sitting in their front room shivering because they daren’t go out after 5pm due to the knife crime on the streets.”

“I’ve been coming here for the last two and a half years and we’re still talking about the same things. In these meetings, we’ve had grown men brought to tears about the issues, the families are really angry. When we look to the police all we hear is that they are gathering data. I did think today was a bit of a PR exercise to be honest.”

Clive also praised the MyEnds program, which pays young people to shape local policing. He said: “It sounds negative, but great things like MyEnds have been taken up by other parts of London, and that’s what I want to see.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Adelekan, said he understood the audience’s concern as a black man and a father. He also said he wanted to focus on the quality of policing and not just the number of arrests.

He added: “Stop and search has always been a contentious issue. When used well it saves lives and is important in keeping Londoners safe, helping us identify criminality and take dangerous weapons like knives and firearms off our streets.

“I know some Londoners have a poor experience of stop and search and that has damaged the trust, confidence, and co-operation of some communities. That distrust is higher in communities where stop and search powers are used most often, generally where violent crime, driven by a small minority, is highest.

“This is why we are taking the first steps to reset our approach. We want to hear from Londoners and create an agreement between the Met and the public on how we conduct stop and searches in the future.”

The Met’s survey can be found on their website. The deadline for completion is March 19.

Pictured top: Vivian feels police should be more accountable for unsuccessful stop and searches (Picture: Harrison Galliven/LDRS)

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