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14 to 24-year-olds in Hampshire are being told about their rights if they're stopped and searched - and why it might be done.
Hampshire Constabulary is responding to recent research, which found 41 per cent of children, teenagers and young people last stopped and/or searched in the city did not understand the reasons why. Detailed survey interviews asked young people for their views on how the police could address these issues effectively - and communicate their rights with clearer, more memorable methods.
The research led Hampshire Constabulary to develop an education campaign named 'Keep Calm and Know Your Rights', which will be presented through a variety of ways suggested by young people.
The project lead, Chief Inspector Annabel Berry, said:
"We are most grateful to everyone who has given us their time and trust in sharing candid opinions about stop and search - plus all the police officers and staff who gave their time for free on days off to prepare and participate in this Saturday's launch event.
"Young people were integral and instrumental to the creation of this campaign, which aims to raise and reinforce mutual understanding and respect.
"Speaking with young people directly, we are acutely aware that being stopped and searched can be a difficult and frightening experience. It is helped by a full explanation of what is happening and why."
Chief Inspector Annabel Berry added:
"The key conclusion of our research was that too many of the young people we consulted felt disengaged and distant from us - leading to a lack of understanding about our powers and their rights.
"74 per cent of the young people surveyed said they wanted to know more about their rights when stopped and searched. Further feedback identified their preferences for police to communicate this information. The familiar 'Keep Calm' phrase was put forward by the young people whom we consulted to devise a central campaign message to recognise and respond to their concerns.
"The consultation guided a range of communication methods to support the campaign such as an interactive presentation for schools and colleges, leaflets and literature, and a dedicated web page."
The campaign was launched in Portsmouth on Saturday, April 20 with a surprise 'flash mob' dance routine performed by 60 police officers, staff and volunteers in the main square at Gunwharf Quays.
Chief Inspector Annabel Berry said:
"The suggestion of police dancing emerged from the same consultation - a 'flash mob' was an idea proposed by young people with the police as a creative and compelling way to draw attention to an important message.
"All police officers and staff involved in the 'flash mob' took part on rest days in their own time. None of the officers and staff were paid or given expenses to be involved in the event.
"Stop and Search remains an incredibly useful power for the police to use appropriately in catching criminals and keeping communities safe.
"The police must put the communities we serve at the heart of everything we do â€“ and the views of young people will continue to be vitally important in influencing and implementing this campaign.
"We need to do this - not only to keep communities safe, but to encourage and maintain the trust and support of the public.
"Take a commitment from our Chief Constable that if you feel you have been dealt with unfairly - we do want to hear about it and we will do something about it."