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Parliament to host stop and search debate

DEBATE: Diane Abbott MP

PEOPLE LIVING in two Birmingham constituencies are being invited to take part in a debate on Stop and Search in Parliament tomorrow night (March 17) during an event hosted by Diane Abbott MP.

Stop and Search: Impact on the Community and Prospects for Reform will give people a chance to share their experiences of being stopped and searched with politicians and also the police.

The event has been organised by the campaign group StopWatch, formed in 2010, which aims to promote effective, accurate and fair policing of the use of stop and search powers.

Currently black people are seven times more likely to be stopped by police than their white counterparts.

People living in the Birmingham constituencies of Edgbaston and Hall Green are being invited to attend, along with residents of Nottingham South. Those living in nine London constituencies are also invited – they include Tower Hamlets, Brent, Barking, Newham, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster.

A StopWatch spokesperson said: “The evening presents an opportunity to share experiences of policing and stop and search with politicians and police.

“With politicians keen to make commitments to voters concerned by stop and search and institutional racism in the run-up to the General Election, the evening is an opportunity to quiz and challenge both politicians and police about what reforms they are proposing to make stop and search less disproportionate, fairer, more accountable and effective.”

There will be a short panel discussion with Diane Abbott, criminology Professor Ben Bowling, and people who have been disproportionately impacted by stop and search. An ‘open mic’ session will follow for attendees to air their views.

Birmingham-based community activist Desmond Jaddoo said: “The recent reforms of stop and search do not go far enough, despite the introduction of airwaves technology where officers radio in to their local control room on a GPS system and ask for consent to search someone.

“The issue that stop and search does not address is the behaviour of officers while conducting their searches. This can be an extremely disturbing experience for those at the receiving end and some officers feel they are above the law when carrying out stop and search.

“This only serves to consolidate the argument that there is a two-tier justice system. I feel it is vitally important that those who can should attend this debate in Westminster.”

• The debate will take place between 5.30pm for 6-8pm in Committee Room 10, Houses of Parliament. For more details contact Taher Gulamhussein, of StopWatch at: taher@stop-watch.org or phone 0207 324 3532

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