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Stop and search app can ‘empower’ the community

VISION: Aaron Sonson, 24, has created a stop and search app

A STOP and search phone app designed to make police officers accountable has now been launched.

Developers Aaron Sonson, 26, from south London and Satwant Singh, 27, from east London, came up with the idea in 2010 after witnessing the effects the police practice was having on their community.

In April 2012, they launched a prototype on BlackBerry and within a few months had received more than 2,500 downloads.

The pair even won the blessing of Scotland Yard.

Sonson said: “They offered to fund the app, but we turned it down as we thought it would be a conflict of interest. We wanted to maintain an independent standpoint.”

Instead, the developers received help from Research in Motion (RIM) and through a grant from UnLtd, a charity that supports social entrepreneurs.

It has enabled them to develop the app for iPhone and Android handsets.

The app comes amid a wave of media scrutiny and an ongoing consultation, which ends on September 24, questioning the effectiveness of the police power.

Recent statistics show black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts.

Sonson who spoke at a recent public debate on stop and search at the Houses of Parliament, added: “We would like to improve the amount of people who talk about their experiences of stop and search.

“If nobody comes out and say the have been mistreated by this officer then nothing will happen, which means the officers will feel more empowered to carry on doing what they are doing because nothing is being done about it.”

The app allows people who have had a negative experience to upload the police officer’s ID number eventually creating a map which gives users a chance to read about experiences within a 10-mile radius.

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