South London Lives: Stop and Search laws by Marcia Capiello


In 1977, the famous campaign to stop “Sus” initiated by parents from South London was created to protect innocent young black men. There were so many men who were subject to the humiliation of “Suspicion” stop and search processes for no reason.

Mavis Best was the leader of the Scrap Sus Campaign in London, which was supported by Paul Boateng MP.

The police, under the sus law, could stop and search anyone if they were suspicious of them committing an offence.

They could also search and potentially arrest people.

In 1999, The Macpherson inquiry, some 20 years later, stipulated that police stops should be recorded. This would be to give some accountability to the process. This was a recommendation that was finally implemented in April 2005.

On reflection, black men in the 1970s felt discriminated against and singled out.

It was apparent that many were being stopped and searched with no evidence of crimes being committed.

Parents became tired and frustrated for their children, and insisted that this abuse of power be brought to an end.

In looking at the soaring statistics of knife and gun crime it is obvious that there has to be a way to retrieve weapons that are being carried by young people.

There have to be positive initiatives and safe spaces to allow young people to express feelings of anger and frustration.

These need to be safely supervised and channelled in a positive way.

The concerns of course are just how and what would be the best way to do this without creating further conflict?

We do not want to see a repetition of the Brixton riots, where feelings of prejudice and discrimination between young black men and the police reached an all-time high in 1981.

We need law and order on our streets, for people of all generations and cultural backgrounds to be able to walk the streets.

This should be without fear of being stabbed or shot. We want our young people of all backgrounds to be mentored and appropriate community initiatives to be supported.

We cannot completely understand what goes on in the mind of a young person who pursues a life of crime.

We should, however, have a voice and respond to our concerns as it continues to affect our communities.

These are hugely worrying statistics with rising death tolls that do not seem to be subsiding. There have been 78 deaths in London since the beginning of 2019.

Young people are restless, bored – having unrealistic expectations about what they can achieve by doing very little.

It concerns me that the world of drugs seems to offer them a quick and easy path to underserved wealth with little educated efforts, toll or labour.

They, through imposing fear and intimidation onto others, somehow believe that they are in control of their own little universe.

There is little shared sense of community and responsibility. There are skills involved, sure; negotiation, maths and great organisational skills, but unfortunately some young people are applying this to the drug world instead of it being put to better, legitimate use.

Lloyd Rose, for the past six years, has been running a boxing club, mentoring young people and children who live on the nearby estate.

We want to give our children a brighter future so that they can feel safe, secure and part of their communities.

The Knife and Gun Crime Victim Support Group, based in East Dulwich, encourages young people to take pride in themselves while having a genuine sense of fulfilment and purpose.

We want to encourage and protect our young people so that they appreciate just how to make a valuable contribution to society.

Next generations should benefit, and not just be focused on immediate and present

The virtual world of Facebook and Snapchat can offer illusions and fake realities on how to communicate and express emotions which are unsafe.

One-on-one is needed and now more than ever mentors like Lloyd need to have their spaces to support our local and vulnerable young people. So why try and shut him down?

We need to be able to offer our young people an alternative to a life of crime, where education and career goals are accessible and of interest.

To those who have little value over their lives who are seeking a life less ordinary.

We say to you, we will protect you so that you feel warmth, love and acceptance as all children deserve to.


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