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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 07:27 GMT
The two sides of stop and search
By Alison Freeman and Evadney Campbell
BBC News, London

Stop and Search
The police say stop and search is a vital tool
Stop and search has always been controversial.

The police see it as a necessary tool which helps them target criminals they might not ordinarily catch.

While those on the receiving end of the power say it leaves them feeling at worst victimised and at best treated disrespectfully.

Glynn Jones, 22, from Clapham, south-west London says he has been stopped at least 15 times in the past six months.

He says that neither he, nor his elder brother Spencer, 26, have a criminal record or have been in trouble with the police.

I'm really concerned that one day it may make me react and I may lash out
Glynn Jones

They are keen musicians and spend much of their time in studios.

"It's not the point that I am getting stopped, it's just the way they treat you when they stop you and the way they've dealt with me is just wrong," Mr Jones said.

"I would like to maybe advise them (the police) and give them some tips on when they stop black people. Young black people like myself.

"Just to talk to them with respect and have manners. Treat them the same way you would treat a white person, sir or madam, whatever. Not blood, not mate, not bruv, not son."

Mr Jones is worried about the long-term affect repeatedly being stopped by Metropolitan Police officers will have on him.

Glynn Jones
Glynn Jones says he has been stopped 15 times in six months

"I'm really concerned that one day it may make me react and I may lash out and it may cause me to have a criminal record."

Mr Jones's mother Juliet understands his fears, so much so, that she too worries about what could happen.

She said: "My fears used to be have they been in a car accident? Have they been shot? have they been mugged? Anything like that, but now it's have the police got them? Are they being taken into the back of a van, are they in a police cell right now? Do they need me?

"And I can't rest until actually they come in the door and they are safe."

But Simon Pountain, Hackney's Borough Commander, says the power is necessary to fight the types of crime that are so common in inner London areas.

If one of my officers abuses their powers then they will be dealt with
Simon Pountain
Hackney's borough Commander

These include robbery, burglary, anti-social crime, prostitution as well as the problems with guns, gangs and knives.

He said: "Without that power, we give free reign to people to wander around with impunity with either drugs, weapons and with stolen property on their person.

"If we get it right, it's an invaluable tactic. Crime comes down and communities feel safer.

"Of course the occasions that we get it wrong get publicised and that makes it more difficult for us to get it right again."

Mr Pountain is adamant that his officers are taught how to behave correctly in stop and search situations and communication is key to the powers being used effectively and politely.

"I think people's perceptions of the use of the powers are always going to be different. From my side, the officers think they are doing their job.

Hackney Borough Commander Simon Pountain
Simon Pountain says he will deal with officers who misuse the power

"They are stopping people who they believe are acting in circumstances which deserve them to be stopped and searched

"And of course members of the public might say to their friends and family that they were doing nothing at all and were stopped for no apparent reason."

Mr Pountain said his officers in Hackney have taken part in a scheme called Trading Places.

Young people swap roles with the police and carry out a stop and search so each can understand the experience from the other's point of view.

Mr Pountain sys he believes it is rare that the powers are used incorrectly and he is staunch in his view that this should never be the case.

He said: "If one of my officers abuses their powers then they will be dealt with.

"I'll have the matter investigated and make sure that they're dealt with according to the discipline code or criminal law."

Hear a commander's experience of stop and search

Hear the young men's experiences


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