***An anonymous guest blog from a 17 year old ex service user of CRASAC***
On Wednesday 31st October I attended the “Women’s Question Time” which was held by Coventry Women’s Voices. As a 17 year old ex service user of CRASAC, a NEET and a care leaver I represent the views of many young people that’s opinion are usually silenced.
When the Candidates were speaking on the panel, they were speaking about the views of the people I represent; however they seemed to be doing this without actually mentioning speaking to any young people or similar groups at all. This to me seemed quite a blatant mistake as how can anyone truly understand what the problems are and what needs to be improved without speaking to the people affected. One of the questions submitted to the panel was about “Stop and Search”, in particular about young black males. Stop and Search a tool frequently used by Police officers. Speaking from personal experience, I have found even as a white female that when going out with a group of male friends and we are wearing trainers, tracksuit bottoms or jackets we are frequently stopped for a “Stop and Search” by the police, however when wearing smarter clothes such as jeans and polo shirts, we have never been stopped. This seems unfair, due to the police are supposed to use reasonable evidence to do this procedure as opposed to just using typical stereotypes for anti social behaviour.
All of the Candidates admitted that there was currently a problem with the Stop and Search, however all also agreeing on the fact that it was a vital tool even if it resulted in very low conviction rate. Out of all of the responses that were given by the potential candidates Cath Hannon was that only one to partly suggest a solution; however this was still vague in its self. It appears that the police force seem to think this is a way of deterring crime especially within young people; however many people are becoming aware of this and finding ways round of being caught. Examples of this would be changing their clothes, giving friends names and addresses or other false details. Many people are also aware of the few powers PCSO’s have, this includes not being able to arrest people. So surely money would be wisely spent training PCSO’s more and giving them more powers, such of arrest or giving them a portable fingerprint reading device which will then eliminate suspects giving false details.
I believe that if the Police and Crime Commissioner would find solutions, to combat the current issues surrounding anti-social behaviour and other issues by speaking to young people. This is usually as people who are stereotypically the main perpetrators of the crime have sometimes the best and new solutions to it. This would also gain the respect of young people as making them feel included in the process until they are of legal age to vote. I think this is vital due to the fact the youths of today will be making the decision next time.
CRASAC provides a confidential support and counselling service run by women for those who have been raped, sexually abused or assaulted. If you or anyone you know, within Coventry or surrounding areas, has experienced rape or sexual abuse, support can be obtained through the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC)confidential helpline number is (024) 76 277 777.
Alternatively, for those outside of Coventry, you can call Rape Crisis England and Wales confidential helpline on 0808 802 9999.