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Attitudes to police and criminal justice system: Young BME people in Avon & Somerset

Black South West Network, supported by the Black Training and Enterprise Group, publish report on the attitudes of young BME people in Avon and Somerset to the police and criminal justice system

The report stems from a series of focus groups of young BME people from the Avon & Somerset constabulary area were held during February and March 2013.

Here, BTEG's project development officer, Mark Blake reports on a follow-up meeting between some of young people involved in the report had with their Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens.

BTEG has been happy to support BSWN  with a BAME youth engagement project on relationships with BAME young people and the police. The report from the project entitled 'Attitudes to Police and the Criminal Justice system', young BME people in Avon and Somerset highlighted the opinions of more than 30 BME young people who attended a series of focus groups across the constabulary area.

Three of the young people who participated in the project had an opportunity to present their views to their local Police and Crime Commissioner, Sue Mountstevens, and the Chief Constable Nick Gargan at a meeting on 17 June. The young people stressed the need for officers to engage with local communities and for greater accountability on issues such as stop and search.

From the meeting, it was clear that more police engagement with BAME young people is needed. This should be achieved formally through standing groups and also informally by officers engaging communities through sport, presentations in community settings and volunteering to work with BAME young people through community organisations. In this way, the much needed positive relationships and understanding could be developed.

There is clearly a need to get the police communicating with BAME young people in a more proactive fashion and to move beyond the warm words of senior officers to actual action that can support sustained change. BTEG will be seeking to do more work in this area with partners such as Stopwatch and the Black Police Association. We clearly need to push this agenda as it strikes at so many pertinent issues such as stop and search, police accountability and how representative of the communities they serve police forces are.

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