'We are not the police' - charity Crimestoppers launches Fearless in Hackney to help kids report crime anonymously
PUBLISHED: 15:19 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:36 20 May 2019
Hackney has been chosen as the first "priority borough" for a charity project aiming to help kids report crime anonymously.
Fearless is the youth arm of Crimestoppers, the national charity that allows people to provide information about incidents with a guarantee of anonymity.
Although it's been around for seven years, Fearless has only recently found the resources to get out into the community, and its first senior worker is based in Hackney.
Jade, who asked us not to publish her surname, goes into schools and youth clubs and runs workshops on understanding crime and how to report it safely. One of her key messages is that she does not work for the police. That's significant in an age where youngsters are conditioned not to speak out, whether for fear of reprisals or for cultural reasons.
"Young people might feel uncomfortable about talking to police," said Jade. "There's also the attitude of keeping yourself to yourself. Fearless enables young people to report things safely."
She is well aware of the difficulties she faces in reversing people's attitudes towards "snitching", or even simply talking to police.
"To be really honest it is tricky," she said. "I don't go out finger wagging and saying: 'You must do this'. I explain about wanting to live in a safe community and the need to look after our families. I allow them to make an informed decision. The key is getting young people to understand crimes."
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Murders regularly go unsolved in Hackney because witnesses don't want to speak out. Last year football coach and aspiring PHD student Abraham Badru, 26, was shot dead outside his mother's home in Dalston. Not only is his murder unsolved, his family are convinced his death was revenge for testifying against gang rapists he saw attacking a girl on the Frampton Park Estate more than a decade ago.
The incident hasn't done much for inspiring confidence in police, not least because Abraham's mother Ronke says when he was giving evidence against the gang, who lived on the same estate, he was getting picked up and dropped off in a police car.
This makes things harder for the Met, and Crimestoppers, which is another reason the charity stresses its independence.
Gang culture across Hackney and many other areas means early intervention is vital if Fearless is going to work, and the charity aims to speak to youngsters aged 11 and under.
"It is more needed than ever before," said Crimestoppers' London chief Alexa Loukas. "We enable people to have confidence and trust us. If they know someone is regularly carrying a knife but don't want to be seen talking to the police, they can report it online."
Last year Crimestoppers as a whole passed 13,000 "actionable reports" onto the Met - that is, useful information.
In 2017 more than 12,000 were sent, leading to 1,078 "positive outcomes" and 155 arrests and charges. Although the charity won't detail any examples, big cases have been cracked open thanks to their tip-offs.
The charity wants to work with more schools, youth clubs and youth offending teams. Anyone interested in the project can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit fearless.org.