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As a member of a Safer Neighbourhood Team ward panel I see the good work that PCSO’s do in terms of youth engagement in schools. However, upon reading figures your paper has obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, I am concerned that the benefits of this work are being undone. Like many, I was under the impression that PCSO’s did not have stop and search powers. So to find out that they have used this exceptional power 620 times in Croydon in 2008 under the Terrorism Act is nothing short of alarming. The Met Police maintain that stop and searches are intelligence-led, and rightly so, but I am afraid these figures smack of search under suspicion which can only adversely affect community relations.
The government continuously tells us that the Afghan war effort keeps our streets safe. Your report indicates a year upon year increase of usage of these powers and a mind boggling 62,000 per cent increase in stop and searches since 2004. Clearly one does not equate with the other.
Croydon already has more surveillance cameras than the whole of New York, and these stop and search revelations - coupled with the fact that armed police now patrol the streets of London to tackle gang crime - suggests that the direction of travel is towards a police state.
Should we not instead tackle the causes of terrorism and gang crime? Respectively, stop fighting unwinnable wars which act as recruiting sergeants for terrorist organisations, and address the sense of belonging, status, personal safety and peer pressure issues that push our young people to join gangs.
Croydon Green Party
Tags croydon, greenparty