Neil Ayisis, Police Officer and Tom Jones, PCSO of Harrow Police
PC Neil Ayisi and Tom Jones (PCSO), of Harrow Police, explained the process of stop and search and why it is important to co-operate with the police if you are stopped. Both of them gave a presentation at Harrow United Deaf Club on 3rd January 2015.
Here, the guest speakers explained that regardless of race, culture or gender; it is their responsibility to stop and search someone if they have reasons to be concerned about as follow:
A police officer has powers to stop you at any time and ask you:
– what you’re doing
– why you’re in an area and/or where you’re going
However, you don’t have to answer any questions the police officer asks you.
Stop and search: police powers
A police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:
– illegal drugs
– a weapon
– stolen property
– something which could be used to commit a crime, eg a crowbar
You can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer. This can happen if it is suspected that:
– serious violence could take place
– you’re carrying a weapon or have used one
– you’re in a specific location or area
– Before you’re searched
Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you:
– their name and police station
– what they expect to find, eg drugs
– the reason they want to search you, eg it looks like you’re hiding something
– why they are legally allowed to search you
– that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy
Removing clothing: police powers
A police officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves. The police might ask you to take off other clothes and anything you’re wearing for religious reasons – eg a veil or turban. If they do, they must take you somewhere out of public view. If the officer wants to remove more than a jacket and gloves they must be the same sex as you.
Being searched doesn’t mean you’re being arrested.
Harrow Police stressed that their message about Stop and Search is clearly nothing to do with race or as such; however it is important to check someone if the Police have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect someone as explained above.
There were lots of questions from the floor, asking about access and what can they do to ensure deaf and hard of hearing people have fully access. Harrow Police assured the audiences that they will provide BSL interpreters at the local police station if arrested or subject to questioning. There were also discussions about Deaf awareness as some members shared experiences of poor access to Police. HUDC offered some support to ensure better awareness and access to deaf people within the Police.
In appreciation of their time, all three guest speakers were presented with a gift together with a certificate of thanks in recognition of their hard work.
Asif Iqbal MBE, President of HUDC, explained: “It was a fantastic evening and a great start to the year 2015. Lots of our members found the evening very useful and thought-provoking. It was also good opportunity for our members to give feedback on how the services can be improved to meet deaf people’s needs. The evening enabled our members to be aware what to do if they ever get ‘Stop & Search’.
We now look forward to our upcoming events including Valentine & being Red (Feb); Inspiring Youth (March) and our Easter Party, fun for all. To learn more, check out our website: www.hudc.org.uk/events”.