Stop Search: The Play

Stop Search, was a hard-hitting new play exploring the contentious and widespread use of stop and search practices disproportionately targeting young black men in the UK.

​The first production of the play ran at the Broadway Theatre, Catford, London from 27th April to 26th May 2012.

Produced by the Present Theatre Company in association with StopWatch, the play was written by Dominic J. Taylor, who has previously worked at Brixton Prison and the Ministry of Justice, and was produced by celebrated director Thierry Harcourt.

Stop Search represents part of a new direction of work for Stopwatch, one drawing on creative tools to reach new audiences. Part of our strategy is to speak to diverse audiences through film, dance, social media and theatre.

Stop Search creates a theatrical forum to discuss difficult issues of racism and policing. It validates the experiences of those on the receiving end of stop and search. The experience of police racism is, of course, nothing new and black communities have had to deal with the tragic paradox of being over-policed and under-protected for years. Yet, this play, lifts the lid on what too often has been part of the private lives of black people. It speaks to a wider, largely white audience who may not be aware of the practice of stop and search and how it impacts on individuals and communities. As well as laying bare the human costs of stop and search, the play asks those of us who are not on the sharp end of policing whether we are happy with what is being done in our name.

Stop Search draws on the tradition of theatre driving social change around issues of equality and policing. The 1979 “Sus” play and subsequent film, for example, contributed to the repeal of the “Sus” stop and search laws and introduction of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) regulating stop and search in the 1980s. It is our hope that Stop Search will speak to a new generation and encourage positive change around stop and search.

For more information about the Catford production:

The play in the media

Educational pack

Dr Michael Shiner, executive producer of Stop Search has designed an education pack to accompany the play. The education packs have been designed around the Citizenship Programme Key Stages 3 and 4, with additional information intended for use in youth work settings and colleges.

Stop Search educational pack can be downloaded below.