‘Youth engagement’ training for police after criticism by Newham youth

Newham police will undergo “youth engagement” training over the next six months to improve relations with young people in the borough who feel unfairly targeted during stop and search procedures.

The matter was brought up in a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday because, according to a Newham Council crime and disorder scrutiny report published in May, youths felt police gave “a general lack of explanation” when conducting stop and searches.

A focus group of young people claimed they were “being stopped for no apparent reason” while feelings associated with stop and search were those of “resentment, embarrassment, frustration and the feeling that it was a waste of time.”

Newham currently has the highest use of these powers in London, with stop and search used 21,911 times in the last year.

Chief Inspector Gary Brown, Youth Strategy Lead for Newham police, noted that he was looking “at how this training in youth engagement can be delivered to police officers in Newham over the next six months.”

The report found that young Black and Asian people were almost equally likely to be stopped, though both groups were nearly twice as likely to be stopped as white youths.

A spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police Service said: “We want to engage with young people to establish how it feels ‘from the other side’, i.e. to be stopped by police, and get their views across to all Newham officers to assist them during stop and searches interactions.

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“We recognise it can be an intrusive power used by police and aim to ensure stops and searches are carried out ion the most professional way possible with diginity and respect.

“Newham police are also currently working on a project on how best to communicate to people the meaning of Section 60 powers (blanket stop and search).”

Newham police already carry out a number of initiative with young people in the borough including discussions with the Youth Council, youth diversion schemes, visits to local schools and colleges and an upcoming youth conference where police aim to liaise with young people during focus groups on a range of topics.