Saturday, October 3, 2020

School worker with no criminal record 'stopped by police 300 times since age 11'

Nathaniel James, 33, believes he has been singled out because of his race. He is now a youth worker and a Stop and Search Youth Trainer but even this has not stopped the searches.



A man claims he has been stopped and searched by police about 300 times since he was 11 years old.



Nathaniel James says he has been stopped by police 300 times.



Nathaniel James, 33, has no criminal record and believes he has been singled out because of his race.

He said: "I’d say all together in my lifetime I've been stopped and searched probably about 100 times without exaggerating.

"I've been on the receiving end of a strop and account probably over 200 times easily."

Nathaniel is now a youth worker and a Stop and Search Youth Trainer teaching young people on what to do when interacting with police.



Even this role, however, has not stopped the searches, Birmingham Live reports.

Nathaniel works as Stop and Search Youth Trainer.



A police officer has the powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you are carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime.

Stop and the account is the power allowing police officers to ask questions about who you are and what you are doing in the area where they stopped you.

According to Birmingham Live, there has been an increase in stop and searches in the West Midlands during the coronavirus lockdown.

Nathaniel grew up in Chelmsley Wood, Solihull, and has had a lifetime of contact with West Midlands Police.

After each stop and search, he kept the receipts as a record.

But despite being searched hundreds of times, he still remembers the first time it happened to him when he was 11.



He said he was put in the back of a police car and was forced to remove his shoes and socks due to police fears of him concealing a weapon.

Nathaniel has no criminal record.



“That's when it all started," he said. "I was stopped in Ladywood, I was one of the youngest ones there.

"They put me in the back of the riot van. They told me to take my trainers off. They were searching for my trainers and socks. This was a traumatic time.

"When I was about 12 I felt like I was targeted by the police. I would get stopped and searched three, even four times a day.

"If there were more than four or five people in a group they used to break us up and tell us to go separate ways."

He added: "It got that bad my mom had to raise a complaint. She took us to a police station with all of my yellow slips. I was getting stopped that much that my mom didn't believe me.



"She said it was becoming too frequent every time you get stopped and searched regardless if they tell you to go down to the station you need to get a yellow slip. I basically had that many yellow slips, they were a drawer full of them.

He keeps the receipt from every stop and search.



"My mom said enough is enough. We took all those yellow slips and went down to the police station and demanded to speak to someone higher up because she felt her son was being targeted."

Nathaniel believes the complaint his mum raised made things slightly better for him, however, the stop and searches still continued.

He said: "It did calm down after we made the complaint but I felt like out of my friendship circle I was targeted by the police because of my race. The proof is in the pudding.

"I had no criminal record. I was a good lad. To be stopped and searched that many times it used to get me frustrated.

"I never used to like the police because I couldn't really understand and grasp why they would treat me differently to my white friends.

"I’d feel like they were pinpointing me. It made me feel like I might as well act bad and play into the stereotype because they were labeling me that way anyway."



Nathaniel has been working with young people ever since he was 21 years old as a playworker in an after-school club.

Two years ago he began working as a Stop and Search Youth Trainer in collaboration with West Midlands Police.

By creating workshops and attending schools he now uses his personal story to try and help other young people.

Although it has not stopped him from being stopped by the police as an adult, he wants to mend a system he believes is unfair.

"If it takes the police to search 50 people and one knife comes off the street it is a good thing. I wouldn't say it's fair," he said.

"When we have a fair system people will realize I'm not being stopped because of my skin but because I am doing something wrong.

"Not all the officers are bad, not all kids know their rights. But know how to carry yourself with manners and a bit of respect.



"Sometimes they are victimizing you but other times they are just doing their job. People will start taking more accountability for their actions more when there is a fair playing field and they are being treated equally."

West Midlands Police told Birmingham Live: "Stop and search is a powerful tool in our fight against crime.

"We’re constantly reviewing how we use these powers to ensure they are fair and proportionate. The data, including a breakdown of ethnicity, is regularly published in reports to the Police and Crime Commissioner and this is regularly scrutinized by community-led panels.

"Our officers carried out 11,064 stop and searches between 1 January and 30 May this year.

"In just over a quarter of all stops (26.9%) there was what’s considered a ‘positive’ outcome, including 1,512 arrests and 266 knife recoveries.

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"We continue to work hard to secure the public’s trust on this sensitive issue and will continue to seek new ways to make these powers even more transparent and ensure they are used fairly and proportionally with all communities."