Policing and enforcement matters fall jointly between the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council – with the the local Borough Commander managing local policing and the Council taking a lead on community safety issues. As your local Councillors, we have been contacted by a number of residents who have witnessed or been told about stop and search incidents – often disproportionately targeting young black men. The coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown in the UK has come at a time when there has been an increase in stop and search in the Borough – with 1825 cases reported in April compared to 1148 in March.
Many of those who contact us have asked what they can do and how young people in particular should react if treated unfairly – something backed up by recent research which suggests only half of all young people are confident that the police will deal fairly with any complaint made. Young people understand that the police have a job to do, but can feel powerless when they ask for explanations and do not get an answer or don’t know how to raise their concerns about how they have been treated.
The youth panel of the Independent Office of Police Conduct (made up of 30 young people from across the country) has recently produced a guide to ‘Young people’s rights to the police complaints system’. The guide addresses questions young people have frequently asked about how to make complaints about policing and can be accessed here. Meanwhile, Lambeth Council will be trialing a new, locally based system of engagement to compliment Safer Neighbourhood Panels, that will focus on local issues regarding making young people safer and stopping violence against women and girls. There will be a particular focus on residents who are unable to access or engage with other forums. Further details will be announced soon, but if you would like to be involved or want to know more please do let us know.