Hackney police and teenagers swap roles in stop-and-search workshop

Police and young people swapped roles last night (Tuesday) to see what it’s like to be on the other side of the controversial “stop-and-search” tactic.

Teenagers – many of whom say they have been stopped and searched in real life – donned police hats and stab vests to search the officers at a “Trading Places” workshop.

The event, at Nisbet House Community Hall in Homerton High Street, was organised by Hackney youth group the Crib Project with the Chatham Safer Neighbourhood Team.

College student Momar Jeng, 17, of Well Street, Hackney, told the Gazette: “I’ve been stopped and searched about four or five times because of where I live. It’s not scary, but you don’t know what’s going on.

“It was very interesting to learn more about it today and put ourselves in their shoes. They showed us how to put on handcuffs and explained what ‘reasonable force’ is. It’s opened my mind that this is their job. It was interesting to switch roles.

“I don’t think stop-and-search should be banned if crime rates go down, but sometimes innocent people get stopped too.”

Acting Sgt Charlie Vere said the event had gone well.

Most Read

“Everyone seemed a lot friendlier than when we started,” he said. “The young people seem to have engaged with it and got something out of it.

“We spoke about what their rights are and what our rights are and how we can make the situation better – it’s all about communication.”

The first “Trading Places” workshop was run in 2000 after project manager of The Crib Project, Janette Collins, organised a consultation with young people who complained they were repeatedly being stopped and searched.

The Crib, based in Balmes Road, Hoxton, has been running the sessions ever since.

“We look at it as a way to build relationships between young people and police,” Janette said. “Now we’re training up young people to deliver the workshops around London – copyrighted to the Crib!”