Croydon residents have expressed concerns that the Metropolitan Police is not working fast enough to "fix" stop and search practices in the borough.

This comes as the Met launched a new consultation on the powers to "reset" its relationship with London communities.

Your Local Guardian: Ade AdelekanAde Adelekan

School teachers, community leaders, and concerned parents gathered at the Croydon Voluntary Action Centre on Sunday to discuss the controversial police powers with their local Met officers.

Anthony King, who chairs the MyEnds youth program, hosted the meeting alongside Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Ade Adelekan, and other local police officers. 

Your Local Guardian: The crowd was made up of community workers, teachers and concerned parents (Credit: Harrison Galliven/LDRS)The crowd was made up of community workers, teachers and concerned parents (Credit: Harrison Galliven/LDRS)

Audience members were keen for the Met to address the recent spike in theft in Croydon, but also wanted officers to do it in a way that respected the diversity of the community.

While the idea of stop and search received some support, concerns over how it was applied took centre stage.

Currently, only around 30 per cent of stop and searches result in an arrest or further action.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), youth worker and Croydon local Neil said: “I’ve heard this all before. I don’t want to hear about the problem again, I hear it again and again.

"It’s all about solutions for me. It’s about trial and error, right now I’m not hearing a lot of trying just a lot of research from the Met.

“For me, I feel stop and search is all about the approach. I know this from working with young people. I know young people can be quite big, with 15-year-olds being as tall as adults, but they are still kids and they don’t know how to prepare themselves for that interaction.

“I never had any police come to my school when I was younger, I was just told to stay away from the police.

"A lot of kids won’t tell their parents they’ve been stopped and searched. They will just ask why and assume you’ve done something wrong. There’s still a big stigma.”

Concern about the stigma that comes with stop and search was shared by many throughout the room.

Many felt the trauma of stop and searches on children was intensified by the fact that they felt they couldn’t tell their parents for fear of how they would react.

Plumbing engineer and mother of two Vivian told the LDRS: “There’s a lot of cultural differences in parenting, back in the day our parents would say don’t bring the police to my door because they trusted the police.

Your Local Guardian: VivianVivian

"It’s the same with school, you trust what the teacher says but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

“I think the trust in authorities is dying out as we go through the generations.

"So now it’s not as much about respect but more about trying to stay out of the way because the police might set you up.”

When King asked the audience if they believed stop and search was necessary, the room nodded with muffled approval.

One audience member, Tanisha, summed up the general feeling of the room in her response.

Tanisha said: “I think that stop and search is necessary, but I also think we need to look at young people and ask them why they carry knives.

"I think it’s better that you have more focus groups with young people directly rather than asking them to carry out a survey.

“We can’t just get them to carry out a survey.

"As adults we look a surveys and think we haven’t got time for that, young people are going to look at a survey and not even read the first line.”

The survey in question forms the first part of the Met’s new charter, which they believe will have a "lasting impact" on how the Met carries out the tactic to better police London. 

The Met’s online survey, which focuses on perception, training, and suggested improvements, comes following a recent dip in public confidence.

Trauma arising from tragedies like the murder of Elianne Andam last year and the recent finding that police abstractions have pulled officers away from the borough have only deepened concerns.

The adultification of children and the lack of understanding around cultural sensitivities were frequently raised as areas where improvement is needed.

Superintendent Tania Martin, who took questions from the audience, acknowledged these are issues where officers could receive more training.

Lifelong Croydon resident Clive became involved with community work following the 2011 riots.

Your Local Guardian: CliveClive

He believes the Met must acknowledge the borough’s size and demographic complexity, and provide policing that respects these realities. 

Speaking to the LDRS after the meeting, he said: “The trust in the community is completely shot, and there some really good people in this area who have been overlooked and are sitting in their front room shivering because they daredn’t go out after 5 pm due to the knife crime on the streets.

“I’ve been coming here for the last two and a half years and we’re still talking about the same things. In these meetings, we’ve had grown men brought to tears about the issues, the families are really angry.

“As a community, we get loads of momentum, but when we look to the police all we hear is that they are gathering data. I did think today was a bit of a PR exercise to be honest.

“We have got some great officers here working with the community but I don’t think they’re properly supported.

“How long is it going to take for the police to realise Croydon is a different beast to other parts of London. There are different sections to the borough that are really different to one another, like New Addington and West Croydon.”

Clive also praised the MyEnds program, which pays young people to shape local policing.

He said: “It sounds negative, but great things like MyEnds have been taken up by other parts of London, and that’s what I want to see.”

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Adelekan, said he understood the audience’s concern as a black man and a father.

He also said he wanted to focus on the quality of policing and not just the number of arrests.

He added: “Stop and search has always been a contentious issue. When used well it saves lives and is important in keeping Londoners safe, helping us identify criminality and take dangerous weapons like knives and firearms off our streets.

“I know some Londoners have a poor experience of stop and search and that has damaged the trust, confidence, and co-operation of some communities.

"That distrust is higher in communities where stop and search powers are used most often, generally where violent crime, driven by a small minority, is highest.

“This is why we are taking the first steps to reset our approach. We want to hear from Londoners and create an agreement between the Met and the public on how we conduct stop and searches in the future.”

The Met’s survey can be found on the force's website.

The deadline for completion is March 19.