Hackney report finds young people aren’t calling police when they need them

The research group spoke to young people about their experiences with police, schools, prisons and t

The research group spoke to young people about their experiences with police, schools, prisons and the political system. Picture: Etienne Godiard - Credit: Etienne Godiard

A report by a Hackney youth-led monitoring group has revealed handcuff usage has increased by 158% in the last three years and young Black men are six times more likely to be stopped and searched in the borough.

Members of the youth-led monitoring project Account. Picture: Tim Head

Members of the youth-led monitoring project Account. Picture: Tim Head - Credit: Time Head

The report, published by monitoring group Account, assessed issues with police around trust, trauma and accountability. All the research in the report was designed, conducted and written up by young people.

READ MORE: Thousands more people stopped and searched in Hackney but fewer perpetrators caught

Campaigns manager, Emmanuel Onapa said the Account project was created to “give power to those marginalised by the system.

He told the Gazette: “Young people cannot be seen as second-class citizens anymore when it comes to policing.

“They need to be at the table, with a role to play in making decisions that affect their lives.

“This is crucial not just for the politics of race relations and policing, but for the future of our democracy itself.”

READ MORE: What impact will coronavirus have on youth engagement work?

The report found Black people are four times more likely to have force used against them and that police in Hackney Stop and Search Black men with a much lower ‘hit rate’ than when searching white people.

Most Read

It revealed that from August 2019 to July 2020 22 per cent of searches in Hackney led to some form of further action or what police call a positive outcome. For young Black men, aged 15-19, this figure was 14pc.

Head of research, David Smith said:“Research is important to everything that we do at Account. People don’t expect young people to be armed with their own evidence.”

He says the Account project revealed a “deep disconnect in trust” and many young people said they would not call on police to help them when they needed to due to fears of being stereotyped as gang members or criminals.

“We heard countless accounts of wrongful stop and search and accounts of excessive uses of force. We heard about the trauma and the pain this caused. We saw first-hand the effect this was having on widening the gap between the police and the community.

“We want our research to raise awareness of these issues – not just in the media and politics – but also in our own community.

“Too many young people we work with grow up blaming themselves for the injustices they face. They internalise the negativity that is all around them and turn that violence on themselves.

“We want young people to be able to grow up to be bigger and better than the stereotypes our institutions put on them. We want to see them stand tall, walk with confidence, lesser than no one.”

READ MORE: Hackney police commander: Communication is key to address tensions in community

Account’s research started in the summer of 2019 and it saw a group of young people do interviews, learn about, statistics, ethics, confidentiality and interview techniques.

They spoke to young people about their experiences with schools, prisons, police and the political system, they met with police, the council, attended university seminars and met with academics and activists.

In response to the report a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the service is “committed” to the use of stop and search as an important tactic to “combat serious violence.

“We continue to work ever more closely with the young people, community and partners in Hackney of which the Account Group are one of, to understand their concerns and work together to reduce serious violence and improve,” the spokesperson added.

The full report can be read here at www.accounthackney.org/research