Experiences

What does it feel like to be stopped and searched? What impact does policing have on the individuals involved, and on their families and communities? We gather stories, experiences and thoughts from around the UK to give a voice to real people.

Viewed With Suspicion: The Human Cost Of Stop And Search

22 April 2013 — A new report, portrait series and film looks at some of the personal stories behind the numbers.

Watch the video and download the 33-page report

Read more about the report on our blog.

The portrait series introduces our nine interviewees »

A joint project by StopWatch and the Open Society Justice Initiative. More information on the OSF website and @OSFJustice.

  • Paul Mortimer

    Retired professional footballer, educator, father — Greater London

    Stopped by the police: "20 to 25 times"

    Paul Mortimer

    "My son asked me, ‘So I can be stopped because I look a certain way?' I said yes, and so he said to me, ‘Well, how can that be right? Does that happen to everyone, Dad?' And I said no. And he said, ‘It doesn't happen to white people, does it?'"

  • Nick Glynn

    Police officer, father — Leicester

    Stopped by the police: "over 30 times"

    Nick Glynn

    "Being singled out to be stopped because of your colour has a horrible effect on you. It's like something you want to keep to yourself as well because there's a bit of embarrassment there, and you don't want to tell your friends and family about it. It's upsetting. It keeps you awake at night as you relive the experience."

  • Diane Joseph

    University administrator, mother — Essex

     

    Diane Joseph

    "When I think about the police, I feel that they have stripped my son of his soul and his dreams. They made him feel worthless. That they make him feel that he's somebody that they can stop and rough up whenever they please with no explanation. You should be able to send your child to the shop to buy a pint of milk without them being stopped on the way back."

  • Karen Chouhan

    Teacher, civil rights activist, mother — Leicester

     

    Karen Chouhan

    "For me it is devastating that this issue can have such an effect on our children's sense of belonging, on their identity, on how they feel about society, how they feel about the police, and how it stops their chances, or can stop their chances, in education or in employment. How it could end up with them going to prison or having a criminal record, if not in prison. Or having something on their record."

  • Kwabena Oduro-Ayim

    Accountancy student, volunteer youth worker — London

    Stopped by the police: "so many times"

    Kwabena Oduro-Ayim

    "The relationship between my community and the police is a fairly volatile relationship. I don't have as much confidence in the police as maybe white society does, and that's not fair. Because I'm a British citizen in the same respect that they're British citizens."

  • Cordel Robinson

    Drama student, playwright, volunteer youth worker — London

    Stopped by the police: "three times"

    Cordel Robinson

    "How can I get them to see me on the road and just leave me alone, let me go about my business? Because I don't really like being stopped. It's just embarrassing. When I'm walking down the road, someone will stop me and start searching, ruffle up my clothes and stuff like that. I was never comfortable with that. A lot of times, it's just embarrassing. Even if nothing happens. It's just embarrassing."

  • Rizwaan Sabir

    PhD student — Manchester

    Stopped by the police: "in excess of thirty-five times"

    Rizwaan Sabir

    "It creates a fear. You start looking around you to see if there's police who might just come and stop and search you for no reason, when you're traveling through the airport or ports. I've always got in the back of my head that at any moment I could be approached by a suit-wearing Special Branch officer and taken into the back and held for up to nine hours for questioning, purely because of the way I look."

  • Ashraf Hamalawi

    University lecturer — Worcestershire

    Stopped by the police: "more than a dozen times"

    Ashraf Hamalawi

    "Why have I been searched so many times? You start getting a bit annoyed. It's like: ‘Well, I can't change how I look.'"

  • Anthony Redman-Thomas

    Video editor, father — London

    Stopped by the police: "countless times"

    Ashraf Hamalawi

    "It's upsetting because I am a law-abiding citizen. I've been to university. I've been to film school. I've got various degrees. I work. I pay my taxes. I do a lot of things that many other people do in their lives every day. So I don't see why I should be singled out more than any other person to be stopped and searched."

Profiles Of The Profiled

A film by the StopWatch youth group, exploring young Londoners' feelings about stop and search »

  • "In the times that we live in, with what goes on in the streets, I'd say stop and search is needed."
  • "I felt helpless to the situation, like I'd got no choice."
  • "Policing needs to be done in cooperation with the community."
  • "Treat people with respect because it is innocent until proven guilty."

Stories

Most Rev. John Sentamu

"When the policeman suddenly realised that I was a bishop, that didn't stop me being stopped and searched" More »

Most Rev. John Sentamu Archbishop of York
Rizwaan Sabir

Rizwaan Sabir, a PhD student of counter-terrorism was held without charge for seven days in 2008 after he downloaded the al-Qaida training manual from a US government website. More »

Rizwaan Sabir PhD student

'Pinned to the ground by six policemen, because I couldn't pay my bus fare' More »

Ann Roberts Edmonton resident

Tell us your story

If you have first-hand experience of stop and search and its effects we want to hear from you.

All stories emailed to us will be anonymised before any publication.