With the rise of serious youth violence in 2017/18 MAC-UK have been engaging with people and organisations invested in solving the issue. Although there is recognition of youth violence being as a result of social economical issues such as poverty and lack of opportunities, the immediate response in an attempt to reduce youth violence is to increase stop and search.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/sadiq-khan-stop-search-london-crime-plan-violence-police-metropolitan-stabbings-acid-murder-moped-a8152371.html & https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/27/increase-use-stop-search-beat-rising-gang-violence-says-iain1/

As a young black man that has experienced the poorly conducted, incriminating and stereotypical stop and search practice during the early 2000s, I conducted some research into the the MET police’s stop and search code of conduct in an attempt to pre-emptively tackle issues that may arise due to the planned  rise in stop and search practice (using race as “intelligence”). 

I do not believe increasing Stop and Search will make a long lasting reduction to serious youth violence if any at all, but will instead further incriminate young people, especially young black men, and reduce trust between young people and the police. I am carrying out some policy work to place young people with lived experience of the stop and search practice at the centre. I think this is the only fair way to improve the practice.

Through the research I conducted, I identified that there is not any code of conduct for stopping and searching young people. This indicates that young people who have their first encounter with the police will be treated like adults. If a young person's first encounter with police is negative, incriminating or conducted in a way that the young person feels as though they are not trusted this will undoubtedly leave a negative experience in the memory bank of the young person and will most definitely be shared amongst their peers creating a ripple of negativity towards police and the stop and search practice.

I believe a code of conduct should be co-produced with young people and police as they are the ones most affected by poor stop and search conduct and the results of it. Already, there is an emerging trend towards this approach in some local initiatives. In the London Borough of Hackney, the local CVS has developed a Stop and Search monitoring board where a group of young people teach other young people their rights in regards to being stopped and searched - see further information attached below. The most interesting activity the board conducts is training new police officers who are to be deployed in Hackney on how to best conduct a stop and search with young people. This has had a positive effect on both the officers conducting stop and search on young people by increasing their confidence to engage with a young person positively and their relationship with the young person they may or may not have searched. For the young people, it has also changed their attitude towards the police allowing them to understand that there are good, caring police officers work in the MET creating a positive relationship between young people and the police. This is a model that could  be replicated with the flexibility to develop according to each London borough.

By Jamel Fraser - Research and Development Intern