Every police officer in Southwark will return to the classroom to be taught by a team of under-21s on how to conduct stop and search measures more sensitively.
Chief Superintendent Shirley Tulloch, the deputy borough commander for Southwark, announced that over 900 police officers will take part in the educational sessions from January, after a pilot lesson earlier in the year had proved a ‘great success’.
The Young Advisors charity allows 15-21 year olds to show local leaders how to engage young people in community life, and over the past three months the nine member Southwark team has collected data from their peers about their feelings on stop and search tactics.
Police stop and search powers have long been a matter for debate, with critics saying they allow police to use prejudices to inform their judgements on whom to search. However, the Metropolitan Police felt it necessary to extend these powers recently in an attempt to reduce stabbing-related deaths in the capital.
Southwark Young Advisor Jaqueline Macauley, 19, is a first year Law student at City University. She led the stop and search data collection, and is Southwark’s representative on a youth panel which advises Hazel Blears MP, Secretary of State for Communities.
“The police aren’t very popular with young people in Southwark, which can make it very difficult for them to do their job. Hopefully our work will help to change that.” – Jaqueline Macauley, Southwark Young Advisor
The Southwark Young Advisors discovered that young black men feel particularly affected by policing strategies because they feel they are stopped too often. This causes them to react negatively to police searches and can make relations between officers and young people fractious.
The findings were collated in educational packs, which were handed to a classroom of police officers in a two-hour pilot lesson last month. “The pilot went really well,” said Macauley. “The police seemed very keen and no one had anything bad to say about it.”
Chief Supt. Tulloch praised the work of the Southwark Young Advisors and called the educational sessions an ‘exciting’ development in relations between the borough’s police and young people.