'Stop Search': The Play


The powerful play ‘Stop Search’, at the Broadway theatre in Catford leaves you emotionally drained, but fully informed how the blanket process of ‘Stop and Search’ dramatically effects Black communities.

The play based in South London focuses on a middle class Black family whose son has been 'Stopped and Searched' more than 30 times. The notices on the recorded data shows that the police were looking for someone ‘Black around 15-18’. This level of interaction highlights  that those directly and indirectly involved viewed the police as the 'enemy'. The play’s skill not only looks at the effects on the parents and the children but also the police officers often unprepared and ill suited with this interface that has the potential to go extremely wrong very quickly.

I was involved with a panel discussion afterwards with the cast and local MP Heidi Alexander. Heidi Alexander stated that until she’d researched data around issue she had no idea of the scale of blanket ‘Stop and Search’, under Section 60 of the police powers. Policing in London is challenging, no one denies that but these levels clearly have to stop', she insisted. Interestingly, evidence shows that the practice, as executed by some forces, neither catches many criminal nor deters them, and equally important alienates the very people who should be assisting the police. But perhaps the most moving testimony was of a mother who had brought her two sons to the play.

‘I feel I’ve failed my sons’, she lamented with tears in her eyes.

‘Their good kids. I’ve brought them up to be law abiding and respectful, yet I’ve lost count how many times they have undergone this humiliation at the hands of police. I cannot even tell them what their rights are because I don’t know myself.’

The wider discussion looked at the role of the police avoiding racial profiling, and how parents and their children can better know their rights.

The full house at the Broadway theatre not only witnessed great drama: ‘Why must the community be subjected to this collective punishment’ said the father of the teenage boy, but also an enlightening conversation that empowered individuals to deal better with the scourge of such high levels of 'Stop and Search'.

About Stop search http://www.stop-watch.org/

The play: http://broadwaytheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/126523764/events

Simon Woolley