Harrow United Deaf Club’s New Year Celebration with guest speakers from Harrow Police & Harrow Age UK
at The Bridge, Christchurch Avenue, Harrow
Harrow United Deaf Club greeted the New Year with a difference, inviting our members to learn more about Harrow Police’s ‘Stop & Search’ and Age UK’s Support for Older people. The event took place on Saturday 3rd January 2015 at The Bridge, Harrow.
The evening was welcomed by the Deputy Mayor of Harrow Krishna Suresh who is also an Ambassador of HUDC, as he cut the New Year cake, much to the applause of the audience. Also in attendances were some VIP guests, including Deputy Mayoress Sasikala Suresh; Councillor Margaret Devine, Adult and Older People Portfolio Holder; Councillor Sachin Shah, Finance and Major Contracts Portfolio Holder; Councillor Ghazanfar Ali and his wife Mrs Ali; Neil Ayisi, a police officer and Tom Jones, Police Community Support officer from Harrow Police; John and Margaret Purnell (Patrons of HUDC).
From there, Councillor Margaret Devine gave an opening speech. She explained about her role with key responsibility for Adult Social Care services aswell as Older people. She opened the floor, asking our members about how adult social care services for deaf and hard of hearing people can be improved. It was an interactive sessions with lots of members sharing their experiences on barriers in accessing to Council services eg lots of confusion within the Council, of who is responsible for booking interpreters; lots of deaf people struggled in looking for work and no support available to assist them in looking for work; lack of information in accessible format eg in BSL; and some positive suggestions on how those services can be improved ranging from better Deaf Awareness, raising awareness of how to book BSL interpreting services and ensuring good quality of services to meet deaf people’s needs.
While there were lots of engagements in the room, everyone were keen to contribute to ensure better access to services. The next speakers from Harrow Police were introduced, with Neil Ayisi and Tom Jones who explained the process of ‘Stop and Search’ and why it is important to co-operate with the police if it happened to you.
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.
The evening doesn’t stop there; there was a further speaker from Karen of Harrow Age UK who explained about what Age UK do and the support for older people. There were lots of questions from the floor for both speakers of Harrow Police and Age UK, 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 and Age UK.
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’ and understand more about Age UK and their services to older people. It is important to remember that many older people have hearing loss and often struggles with conversation, missed out information and as a result, becomes increasingly isolated. It is important for us to reach out to older people and ensure they are aware of deaf equipments and support available for them including Age UK.
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”