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What We Do

Stop & Search

"Racialised stop and search is also a legacy of more direct and brutal forms of policing the black body in the UK, from back in the days before political correctness."


Author, Musician & Educator

What we are doing

We know that in Lambeth, Black people are more than twice as likely to be stopped by the police than White people. In 2020, only 25% of stop and search of all ethnic groups across London led to further action. The disproportionate use of stop and search powers on Black people have created tension between our communities and the police for decades.

Black Thrive Lambeth and King’s College London are researching the impact of stop and search on the mental health of Black young people. Black Thrive Lambeth have partnered with the ESRC Centre for Society and Mental Health to use the data they have gathered on the REACH Study which highlights the mental health of young people in South London.

Listen to our Community research Coordinator Nathaniel Martin give an overview of the project.

Know Your Rights

Things to know about Stop and Search

A police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to think you’re carrying:
  • illegal drugs
  • a weapon
  • stolen property
  • something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar

Our roots and rationale

‘Reasonable grounds’ means what an ordinary person would think was fair if they had all the information the police officer has. A police officer cannot stop and search you because of your physical appearance, or because of your race or ethnicity. A police officer may also have the power to stop and search you if you’re in a specific location or area or they have reasonable grounds to believe that serious violence could take place. Before you’re searched the police officer must tell you:
  • their name and police station
  • what they expect to find, for example drugs
  • the reason they want to search you, for example if it looks like you’re hiding something
  • why they are legally allowed to search you
  • that you can have a record of the search and if this isn’t possible at the time, how you can get a copy
A police officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket, or gloves. If they want you to remove anything more, they must take you to a police station, or somewhere private like a police tent. If the officer wants, you to remove more than a jacket and gloves they must be the same sex as you.

The police might ask you to take off anything you’re wearing for religious reasons – for example a veil or turban. If they do, they must take you somewhere out of public view.
Police station

The Stop and Search Project is a Mayor’s Office encouraged and historically supported project. On the 13th of November 2020 the Mayor’s Action Plan recognised the impact and prevalence of systemic racism within public institutions and aimed to increase the levels of trust that Black Londoners have in the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

The plan also acknowledged that within the Black community there was a feeling that the Metropolitan Police Service fails to understand Black communities, neither is it representative of them.

In May 2020, 2561 Stop and Searches took place in Lambeth, 67% (1759) were carried out with Black people, compared to only 23% (595) who were White (Metropolitan Police, 2021). This is despite Black people making up 30% of the population in Lambeth, compared to White people who make up 55% of the Lambeth population. The disproportionate use of police powers against the Black community is very evident.

Our Ambition

At the centre of Black Thrive Lambeth, we amplify and embed the voices of our community to drive meaningful change, facilitate partnerships with key system players, to redress the imbalance of power and inequality felt by Black Lambeth communities, so that Black people thriving is the norm.

By partnering with King’s College London and the Centre for Society and Mental Health, Black Thrive Lambeth hopes to add some meaningful data and insight to the conversation around the practice of stop and search and its effects on Black young people.

We hope to:

  • Gain insight into the impact of Stop and Search on the wellbeing of Black young people and to shift the mental models of key stakeholders through storytelling.
  • Co-design solutions with young people to reduce the disproportionate use of Stop and Search powers by the Police.
  • Equip young people with the tools to challenge poor Stop and Search practice.
  • Empower frontline workers to support young people who are stopped and searched and to have the confidence to challenge poor Stop and Search practice.
  • Reduce the disproportionate use of Stop and Search by raising awareness among the police of the negative impact it has on the mental health of young people, co-creating training for the Lambeth and Southwark BCU forces, codesign training with Black communities, to enable them to effectively challenge police processes and support Black young people who have had negative Stop and Search experiences.
  • Improve community relations and partnership working by creating a platform that brings together young people, the Black community, the police, statutory services, and the voluntary sector to find solutions.

Our Partners

Get Involved

If you are interested in this project and would like to find out more information, please email stopandsearch@blackthrive.org