App to hold police instantly accountable in stop and search
Mon 2 Nov 2015
A collective of London-based youth clubs and organisations has released an app to help encourage those involved in unfair police encounters to instantly record and report their experiences.
Charities Release and StopWatch have co-produced the Y-Stop app for Android and iOS as part of a wider scheme to manage the interaction between police and the younger community. The UK project wants users to understand their rights and behave correctly when stopped and searched by police.
Following two years of exploring the issue, the Y-Stop team stated that they discovered stop and search to be a ‘disempowering, frightening and frustrating experience for young people across the UK.’ Its mission claims that the police tactic ‘has a serious impact on communities, creating a complete lack of trust and confidence in the police, as a result of suspicion, neglect and prejudice.’
According to the group’s findings, 142,121 young people under the age of 18 were stopped and searched in England and Wales in 2014 – with only 11% leading to an arrest. The Metropolitan Police in London carried out nearly 40% of these.
According to StopWatch the idea is to ‘encourage police accountability’ by making it easier for anyone to have a say about what they think may be unjustified or illegal police action. It also aims to reduce the risk of conflict and harm. The app allows its user to immediately send audio and video footage of harassment for secure holding with the charities themselves, or with the police directly. It also enables easier communication with lawyers for assistance and advice.
A similar app was launched in the U.S. six months ago by the American Civil Liberties Union. The software allows civilians to record incriminating footage of police conduct and send it to be assessed by lawyers. In California, the app has been downloaded over 170,000 times since its launch.