In the run-up to this summer’s London Olympics, young Londoners from Truce 20/20, our East End youth project, are working hard to prevent confrontations between local young people and the police.
The Metropolitan Police will draft in thousands of extra police to the Olympic boroughs, and increase its use of group dispersal and stop and search – tactics which often create tensions with young people. Fearing a repeat of last summer’s violent clashes, Truce 20/20, based in the Olympic borough of Newham, has developed a campaign with the Met to minimise possible conflict.
Truce graduate Sam, a reformed drug dealer, is now on the Met’s youth advisory board, offering street-level perspectives. He is pleased that the campaign will help young people to understand the police operation better. “A lot of young people don’t know about what’s going to happen,” he says. “But our meeting with the Chief Inspector was really good. He really listened to what we had to say.”
The Trucers call their campaign ‘Yo, Stop and Flow’. They plan to minimise problems by handing out thousands of advice booklets to local young people on the streets, and also in youth projects, community centres and secondary schools. These booklets explain the nature of the police operations, what rights people have when stopped by police, and how to avoid confrontations. The booklets also include details of a 24-hour helpline which locals can call if they need independent legal advice or have any other problems.
A group of 15 Trucers have already been trained in their rights by the Newham Monitoring Project. They will pass the information on to other youths when doing outreach work on the Newham streets before the Games begin. The police have been so impressed with the commitment of the Truce members, that they have invited them to take part in the production of a ‘Stop and Search’ DVD which will be distributed in Newham later in the year.
Truce manager Klaudia Brezna adds:
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