London 2012: Newham young people express fears over stop and search

Young people in Newham have held talks with senior police officers because of fears they could be targeted during the Olympics.

Police activity in the borough will be ramped up to deal with possible security threats during the Games and to deal with the thousands of extra visitors

This has led to fears that younger residents could be picked out and subjected to random stop and searches.

A dispersal zone will be in operation in Stratford town centre for the duration of the Olympics, giving officers the power to move on anybody they believe is causing harassment or distress.

Young people from the Newham voluntary group Conflict and Change will distribute fliers next month to advise people on how to act if they are stopped by the police.

Moderator Wangu Mureithi, 19, is a member of its Truce 20/20 steering group. She said she was satisfied by what they had heard in the meeting.

She said: “We felt a bit concerned about how our Newham young people were going to feel if they heard there would be more police on the streets.

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“Our concerns are about how young people are going to react to this.”

The 3,000 flyers will be made available in the borough’s community centres, libraries, and an online version will be appear on Facebook.

The scheme has been funded by Tate and Lyle, and Truce 20/20 has been assisted by members of the Newham Monitoring Project.

Miss Murethi added: “If young people are caught misbehaving then at least they should know their rights.

“Police do have legitimate reasons for carrying out stop and search but not all young people are in groups to cause trouble.

“We just felt we would be the bridge between the police and the young people themselves.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We want people to enjoy the celebrations and sport safely and securely.

“While there are no current plans to increase use of stop and search as part of our Olympic policing operation, it remains an important policing tactic and deterrent to prevent crime

“It will be used, where appropriate, based on the crime and intelligence picture at that time.”