StopWatch Youth: Turning negative experiences into positive action for change

The stop and search campaign group StopWatch has been working with young people across the country to find out what their stop and search experiences are and how they can be improved as part of a youth advocacy programme. 

StopWatch has recently published a report bringing together the research that groups of young people undertook in their own communities. Each group chose the issues that they wanted to focus on themselves so that they reflected their own experiences and interests; in Bristol, a group of young activists grappled with police community relations; young people's understanding of their rights was most pressing for the Cardiff team and the Wellingborough group were passionate about tackling traffic stops.

Their research shows us that no matter where they live, young people have problematic relationships with the police that are seriously damaged by stop and search. Aside from being treated disrespectfully, rarely receiving adequate explanations for why they are being stopped and feelings of embarassment, we were interested to read that there are so many young people who are STILL not receiving a receipt from police officers, so much so that they had not even heard of stop and search receipts before.

Getting your receipt is really important. Not only is it your proof of the search and helps you complain or follow up if you need to, ensuring that receipts are filled out is a good way of making the police accountable. It requires them to commit to an explanation of why the search took place and what happened, this makes them more likely to follow the law. If you are refused a receipt or a reference number then let us know!

As well as identifying the problems, the youth groups undertaking the research also came up with some really great recommendations to build trust and confidence in the police, improve police community relations and equip young people with the support and resources to better deal with stop and search. Check out what they had to say over at StopWatch.

confidence in police