Demanding accountability for the policing of black children and young people

Demanding accountability for the policing of black children and young people

On Thursday 9 November, the Alliance for Police Accountability (APA) held a community meeting on ‘Policing and the Black Child’ at the IDPAD Empowerment Centre in Clapton. The meeting followed an incident in July where a 13-year-old boy was rammed off his bike by a police van after a blue and white water pistol he was playing with was mistaken by the police for a real gun.

The boy, who has not been named, was then surrounded by armed police and handcuffed.

Betrayed by the police and the IOPC
In a statement about the incident read to a press conference in October, the boy’s mother stated that the incident had been a “deeply traumatic experience” for the entire family, and that she didn’t believe it would have happened had her son “been a white 13-year-old boy”.

The statement continued: ‘“I feel let down and betrayed, not only by the police, but also by the IOPC, and by the whole system that is supposed to look after our children, black or white”.

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The APA community meeting
The November meeting was chaired by Lee Jasper, the Chair of the APA. Panel members were Diane Abbott, MP, Catriona McGregor, Family Solicitor for the family, Janette Collins, MBE, CEO of The Crib Youth Project, and the BCU Commander for Hackney and Tower Hamlets, Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway.

Lee Jasper told the meeting that the APA is demanding accountability for the policing of black children. Dianne Abbott, MP, stated: “None of this is new. We’ve had thirty odd years of this and we’re still going around in circles. I’m not saying for certain that we should close down the Met, but I’m saying we should think about it”.

As part of the discussions, the meeting heard that:

  • The youth organisation Redthread report an increase in the number of Black children going to hospital after violent interactions with the police.
  • There is a lack of monitoring of violent arrests of people aged under 18.
  • The success rate of a race complaint against the police is 0.03%.
  • Prison authorities calculate the size of the future prisons’ population based on the current number of school exclusions.

Answering questions from the audience, Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway said, “We recognise that the child was traumatised by this incident.” He also stated that the Met are attempting to “make real change in Hackney.”

Responding to Conway,  Ngozi Fulani, CEO of Sistah Space commented, “I don’t want to hear you talk, I want to hear you do.”

Concluding the discussion, Lee Jasper commented to Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway: “It’s easier to talk warm words than to take on systemic racism in your service.”

The Alliance for Police Accountability aims to transform policing and promote a new public health approach to addressing serious violence, and empowering Black communities across England and Wales. The APA is planning a London-wide meeting on policing in 2024. We will bring you details of this event once it is announced.