Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence


19.  Memorandum submitted by Flipside

  Flipside is the operating name of Lambeth Crime Prevention Trust which is a registered charity that works with young people mainly in the London Borough of Lambeth.

  This evidence is submitted on behalf of four of the young black people who are currently working on one of our projects based in the Coldharbour Ward. This ward is a significant crime hotspot and is recognised as having a very high level of social deprivation.

  They looked at the following areas: Youths, Peer Pressure, Upbringing, Attitude, Police, Role Models and Way Forward.

YOUTHS

  One of the problems is that young males have nothing to do so they hang around together, then by default form into crews/gangs.

  The need to have a community centre/drop-in centre where they can "chill" with supervision. The group identify an "age thing" (16-17 years) which is to be on the road doing "their own thing". As they get older these young people realise they can't do this forever so they find work somewhere like Sainsbury's or they turn to thieving (stealing).

  Another problem that they identified was the wearing of hoods by young people, known in the media as "hoodies". The perception they feel young people have is that wearing a hood means that one will be automatically stopped by the police.

PEER PRESSURE

  They all agreed that if a young person is not mentally strong s/he will be influenced by others. If s/he can't handle being on the road because s/he is not designed for life on the road s/he will get caught. (By being designed for life on the road they meant a young person who has from an early age been involved in an anti-social/ criminal way of life). They acknowledged that the weaker/ younger ones will be targeted and bullied and that some of them will be drawn into trouble. They also acknowledged that a young person needs to have the skill not to be involved in an anti-social/criminal way of life but have the ability "to roll" (to be accepted) with those on the street.

UPBRINGING

  The group identified positive upbringing as being very important. All of them had strict parents which they felt had not done them any harm and all have good relationships with their mothers. They identified that working class parents work long hours resulting in children being left at home alone. The parents often have problems because they cannot come home and discipline their child/children immediately for misbehaving, are unaware of it, or are too tired to do anything about it. They felt very strongly that children must not control the parents. They pointed out that a young person's parents/teachers are very influential on him/her. One of the group said that once she found that one of her teachers believed in her ability, she believed in herself.

ATTITUDE

  The group felt that the young people and the police/criminal justice system suffer from a lack of knowledge about each other, this leads to misunderstanding. Some of the group felt that neither side wants to understand each other, which means that they both have a distorted perception of each other. In the system some of the group felt that young black people are treated different to their white counterparts. They also felt that racism is as apparent as it was during the Brixton riots, black people are still being treated the same. However, they noted that at social events sometimes black people kick off and contribute to a negative image of young black people.

POLICE

  Generally it was felt that the police hassle the wrong people. A young black person needs to know how to handle the police, how to talk to them without swearing at them. He/she needs to know his/her rights.

  In Brixton the group felt that the police are not dealing with the drug dealers in the centre where older dealers are selling drugs blatantly on the streets.

  They felt that police use more pressure on young people than on gunmen who are driving around and Yardies dealing on the streets.

  Finally they felt that if you make a complaint (properly) against a police officer that it gets nowhere as they (the police) all support each other.

ROLE MODELS

  Role models are important but they don't have to be famous people. One of the group identified her mum as her role model. Another identified Jay-Z but only for his MCing, the group felt that sometimes stars are unrealistic role models. A community member could be a role model.

WAY FORWARD

  Setting personal goals was seen as being very important and then working towards them.

  They acknowledged that working can be difficult if you are a teenage mum over 18 years because child care is expensive and it is very hard to get out of the benefits trap.

  They identified that people physically have to do something to stand up to the guns/gangs—it is not enough to talk all the time as the streets are been taken over, people need to stand up against them. They noted that many white people march for black youngsters killed by guns. They felt by nature black people are not good at protesting/marching. They also realised that people are not involved on the estates because they are scared to be involved because of retaliation.

  They felt that ensuring the following would help alleviate some of the levels of misunderstanding on both sides:

    (i)  That young black people should know their rights so that they can handle the police better thus helping their relationship with the police.

    (ii)  That there should be mandatory awareness training for all practitioners in the criminal justice system which covers cultural and social deprivation issues for young black people.

March 2007





 
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