Friday, 18 July 2008

Stop and Search - more like stop and stare.

I saw loads police conducting 'stop and search' outside Archway tube station yesterday. Teenage boys were having their turn-ups searched for knives and the like. They even had a metal detector to walk under - I saw two policemen struggling to carry the frame into position.

I actually felt quite sorry for the police. What a massive waste of their time. Talk about knee-jerk reactions! Last year we all were told to be paranoid about terrorists, now it's youths with knives. Or maybe guns. Though knives seem to be the biggy at the moment.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's awful that people are getting stabbed and killed. But yesterday figures were released that showed that crime is down. So why are we being bombarded with front pages about how we're all going to be stabbed any second? Well, because whipping the public into a frenzy is what the tabloids do best.

But when that frenzy extends to the police, and they are stopping random young people in the street - cornering them as they get out of the tube - then you know things have gone too far. Imagine being a young man of 15, being searched in broad daylight by two policemen. Onlookers stop and stare. People whisper that you look like a bad 'un. What do you feel? Resentment, panic and a swiftly developing hatred of the police.

It's the quickest way to turn a law abiding young person into a detester and an antagoniser of the police.

So what is the solution? Well, it's more complicated than packs of police outside tubes with metal detectors. Why do people carry knives in the first place? To seem tough. To belong to a gang. Because the music they listen to tells them that's what you do. Because they have no positive role models, no father figures, no one to show them right from wrong. Because they live in shit conditions, people have had low expectations of them from birth and they see no way but the wrong way.

These problems are huge and deep, and are hard to remedy. Easy to put some police on the streets, stopping lads in baseball hats and hoodies, and then we'll all say "That Boris, he's doing something good for London. We're safe now."

Bullshit. I think we need to address the real issues, not skirt around the subject and further alienate people from the police. Let's get people onto the right track when they're young, and help them to stay there, for eveyone's sake.

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