Increasing stop and search is not the way to go

Increasing stop and search is not the way to go

POLICING: Boris Johnson has come under fire over his plans to increase police stop and search powers

THE LAST few years has seen the topic of escalating violent youth crime and how politicians intend to deal with it dominate the national headlines.

That debate is again in the spotlight following new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to increase the police’s stop and search powers.

The expansion of these powers will allow officers to challenge people without reasonable suspicion. Campaigners have expressed real concerns about the implications of the policy.

And not without justification. They point to the fact that increased stop and search does little to tackle the root causes of crime and violence.

Another issue that directly affects our community is the fact that the Home Office’s own figures show that black people in England and Wales are 40 times more likely to be searched under section 60 powers than white people.

As these figures show, this increase in stop and search is going to disproportionately affect a particular demographic.

If stop and search is not properly monitored and officers are not held to account on who they are using this power against there is a real chance that youth violence will worsen.

As Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott says, it’s a draconian approach that shows no real intention to do what campaigners and families have been crying out for – to invest in policing and tackle violence as a public health issue.

Let’s have a discussion about really addressing mental health among young people and the causes of children being drawn into gangs, rather than using “reactionary” enforcement powers. Let’s also listen to the claims from professionals on the frontline of efforts to curb youth violence that extra funding is critical.

Planning services to support young people at risk of involvement in violent crime is extremely difficult while professionals do not know how much funding they will be allocated.

Yes, we want knives and guns off our streets. But we have to target them and the people who are out there causing harm and killing people.

You can only do this by working with people in local communities who also have the aim of stopping violence not alienating them which these measures will no doubt do.