Police officers are to be confronted with testimony from young black Londoners sharing their experiences of stop and search, in a film developed by non-profit organisation Create Not Hate.
The initial project was intended to be an open and on-camera discussion between young people of colour and Metropolitan Police officers, Create Not Hate said. The format was intended to spark proper change in the relationship and open a positive dialogue between the two.
However, the Met Police withdrew from participating and no longer has a presence in the video, which is intended to help with “empathy training” and encourage change in how the police force handles stop and search.
Instead, the short film, part of Create Not Hate’s ongoing goal to combat systemic racism, now aims to give young people a platform to air their views and experiences. It features six young people from North London between the ages of 16 and 22 talking about their experience with the police and what needs to change.
The film was created by Quiet Storm, the agency behind Create Not Hate, with music composed by Andy Carroll at The Elements Music.
Create Not Hate and Quiet Storm founder Trevor Robinson said: “We wanted young people who had experienced – or witnessed – stop and search and unnecessary force used by police officers to have the opportunity to talk openly with police officers in a safe space. But most of all we wanted it to be constructive about moving forward. We wanted it to be the first of many open and trust-building conversations, starting a dialogue between police and young people.
“When the police withdrew, we felt strongly that the young people should still have this experience and share their stories. We plan to send this film to every single police officer we can contact, as well as put it out across all social media channels.”
Explaining the withdrawal, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police, said: "The Met values opportunities to listen to our communities so that we can best serve and work together on matters of importance. We had been in discussions with the local authority [Merton Council] and Quiet Storm to feature in the filming project however we were not assured that all parties shared the same objectives and sadly could not continue.
“It was made clear in withdrawing that we remain committed to working with young people in Merton in a way that will sustainably improve relationships and experiences going forward,” she added.
The film was launched pro bono by Create Not Hate ahead of the traditional Notting Hill Carnival weekend, a key event for the black community. The carnival was cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.
Stop and search becomes a greater issue during the Notting Hill Carnival because of the decision of the Met in recent years to put in place a Section 60 order under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which gives police greater powers to search people.
Stop and search already disproportionately targets black people, who are nine times more likely to be subjected to it than white people across the UK. In London, where the Met operates, the figure stands at four times more likely.
In the film, Emmanuel Areoye, 19, says: “As an individual, who is not a criminal, I don’t feel comfortable around police. We’re talking about 16-, 17-year-olds getting stopped, not just getting stopped, but getting harassed, manhandled because of speculation that you might have done something because of how you look.”
The Metropolitan Police spokeswoman added: “Stop and search is a hugely contentious issue but one which the Met has been doing a vast amount of work within and with communities to improve the use of the tactic. The experiences of those who are stopped and searched is vital for us to learn from.”
Robinson set up Quiet Storm in 1995, and the first iteration of Create Not Hate under its umbrella in 2007, with a focus on knife and gun crime. In 2020, the murder of George Floyd and renewed vigour of the Black Lives Matter movement pushed Robinson to reignite the non-profit.In 2020, Quiet Storm launched an initiative to bring diversity into advertising, and currently, it is calling for a review of the training process for stop and search.