Sunday, October 26, 2008

Acting Borough Commander admits "halfway house" needs to be found on Knife Arches.

Last Thursday's public meeting in Thornton Heath convened by Croydon Police, Croydon Community Police Consultative Group and the council arguably turned out to be a different kind of meeting than everyone envisaged.

Firstly, those attending were told Borough Commander, Mark Gore, was on a course and was unable to attend the meeting . Apparently, Commander Gore has been promoted up the ranks of the Met Police. The new acting Borough Commander filled in for him. The council and the met police began by explaining the new 'Safe for All' campaign to Thornton Heath residents.

However, the meeting changed direction when I pointed out that racial profiling, when using 'stop and search' powers could only have a negative impact on confidence and trust within sections of the community. Black Caribbean councillor Louisa Woodley also made passionate a comment after a resident claimed that she saw a group of 'black teenagers' unfairly targeted in central Croydon.

I was also was able to use this opportunity to question the incredibly poor process of recording a 'stop and search', when using using 'knife arches'. Earlier this year I was 'stopped and searched' and asked to walk through a 'knife arch' at Thornton Heath station and instead of receiving a completed form I was given a piece of note paper with a reference number and told if I wanted to view a full record of this 'stop and search', I would have to present the reference number to the local police station within the next two weeks.

I am pleased to say the acting Borough Commander agreed that this type of streamlined processing was not acceptable . He indicated that this procedure had been brought in to ensure that commuters did not experience delays at transport interchanges. He admitted that it would be difficult to follow routine 'stop and search' procedures when using a 'knife arch' BUT he recognised the need for a 'halfway house'.

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