Stop & search app will ‘hold police to account’

A police officer takes a picture for supporters of China's President Xi Jinping outside Downing Street in central London, Britain, October 21, 2015. © Peter Nicholls
Individuals who are stopped and searched by police will now be able to record and report their experience using a new app designed to hold officers to account.

The Y-Stop app, co-produced by Release, StopWatch and youth clubs around the UK, is part of a wider scheme to effectively manage the interaction between police and young people in communities. 

The stop and search tracker, available on iOS and Android, allows users to record video and audio, make instant contact with lawyers and be informed of their rights.

Its creators say the app will make police more responsible for their actions and reduce the number of youngsters being racially profiled or stopped for no reason.

The Y-Stop app also intends to teach people how to keep calm and maintain eye contact with policemen during stop and search scenarios.

According to the Tech Times, the app’s developers have made it easy for users to send audio and video files to lawyers or police quickly in case an officer confiscates their phone.

‘Huge problem’ 

Natasha Dhumma, a coordinator working for the app, says stop and search is a “huge problem” for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

It’s also a question of people feeling harassed by it, they feel stops are unjustified, they’re frustrated,” she told Wired magazine.

“They feel very disempowered by it and this is a tool to help them and be able to deal with it in a positive way.

An Oxford University study found a fundamental cause of the English riots in 2011 was tension between police and communities. Residents felt officers showed a “lack of respect.”

One teenager who admitted to rioting “out of anger” told RT ethnic profiling in stop and search is one of the key factors ruining the already-damaged police and community relationship in London.

According to Stop Watch, black people are stopped and searched at just under three times the rate of white people across London, while Asians are stopped and searched at just over the same rate as white people.

From April 2013 to March 2014, 16 percent of stop and searches conducted under section 1 of the Police And Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 led to an arrest, according to Stop Watch.

‘We hope to improve relationship with community’ 

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) says it does not underestimate the impact stop and search has on communities and individuals.

The MPS investigates allegations of racism against its officers and staff will, we hope, further improve both our internal culture and our relationships with London's communities,” the service told RT.

“In January 2012, the MPS launched a renewed focus on stop and search to make it more effective and fair and since then there has been a significant improvement.

“There is disparity in the use of stop and search in relation to gender, age and race. The reasons are complex and include the power to tackle gangs and specific crimes.

“We do not underestimate the impact stop and search has on communities and individuals, we know that to maintain public confidence in its use, the power must be used in a fair and effective manner.”