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East Ham criminal lawyer sets up legal service and stop and search app to help BAME people

PUBLISHED: 17:13 06 October 2020

The Legal Lifelines stop and search app allows users to record their interaction with police, securely store the footage and immediately access advice if they need it. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

The Legal Lifelines stop and search app allows users to record their interaction with police, securely store the footage and immediately access advice if they need it. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

PA Archive/PA Images

An East Ham criminal lawyer has developed a “stop and search app” to help people from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Criminal lawyer and Legal Lifelines founder Michael Herford. Picture: Mary Rahman / MRPRCriminal lawyer and Legal Lifelines founder Michael Herford. Picture: Mary Rahman / MRPR

In response to recent anti-racism campaigns, Michael Herford set up practice Legal Lifelines, which aims to empower BAME people with knowledge of their legal rights and issues that affect them, including county lines and modern slavery.

The “knowledge hub” provides articles, webinars and other resources to support anyone who is at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

An app allows users to record their interaction with police and securely store the footage using “military grade encryption”.

Should the user be arrested, they can immediately contact the Legal Lifelines team for advice.

Mr Herford, 38, said: “We know that BAME people, as well as minority communities such as Travellers, are likely to experience disproportionately negative outcomes at work, or when engaging with the authorities.

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“We aim to empower them with the knowledge they need to protect themselves by bringing them critical information on legal issues that affect them such as stop and search, county lines, human slavery and protest law.”

He added: “I have been stopped and searched and understand how degrading and scary it can be when protocols are not followed by those conducting the search and other invasive operations.”

The collaborative effort will combine some of the most skilled lawyers in the country with the determined efforts of the charity and entertainment sectors to provide access to the best advice.

“I’ll be presenting a webinar programme with some of the best legal minds in the sector as well as engaging with young people, charities and BAME community members to understand what their needs are and how best to support them,” Mr Herford said.

Mr Herford, who was born to a father of black Caribbean heritage and white English mother, was this year recognised in the prestigious Legal 500.

He said: “I had no help or connections and was often told I would not succeed and was not able to work in a challenging profession such as law.

“I need to work with my community to encourage young people to come forward and believe they can have fulfilling lives as members of this society.”


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