The Tower Hamlets Youth Independent Advisory Group (YIAG) is a group of twelve 15-19 year olds who work closely with Tower Hamlets Police to keep the area safe, by alerting the police if they have any concerns. The group meets monthly, and roughly half are Poplar HARCA residents. Through facilitating the group, Poplar HARCA gives young people the opportunity to regularly hold the police to account and propose solutions to them.
- In Summer 2020, the group was preparing for a meeting with the Borough Commander for Hackney and Tower Hamlets, Marcus Barnett. They were considering the biggest issues they have experienced in relation to the police, and what solutions could work to reduce these issues. One of the main issues was institutional racism: members raised the fact that overly-oppressive policing is a London-wide problem, mainly affecting BAME communities in inner-city areas. They shared examples of times when they had been stopped and searched in a way that has felt unnecessary, unfounded and intimidating, with one member disclosing that they have been stopped and searched over 10 times.
- In the meeting, facilitated by Poplar HARCA, the YIAG recommended a solution: mandatory unconscious bias training for the Metropolitan Police in Tower Hamlets. The Borough Commander was receptive to the YIAG’s concerns, and confirmed that mandatory training will be delivered to all police officers. Sayce Holmes-Lewis, Founder of Mentivity, will deliver the training.
- Do you know a young person aged 15-19 who might be interested in joining the YIAG? For more information, email Spotlight’s Youth Volunteering Coordinator, Harry Forshaw at email@example.com.