Lack of trust
Only 36 per cent of Black children and teenagers trust the police compared with 75 per cent of young White people, according to a major new survey for the criminal justice consultancy, Crest Advisory. The trust figure for Black people aged ten to 18 was the lowest of any ethnic group and was even lower among Black Caribbean children.
Less than a quarter of Black children and teenagers questioned for the poll said they trusted police to stop and search them fairly and fewer than one in five trusted officers to treat people from different backgrounds fairly. The survey also suggests young Black people are less likely to call the police if they are in danger than those who are White or Black adults.
The survey was conducted online and succeeded in getting the view of 1542 children and teenagers, aged ten to 18 Including 100 Black children). The headline findings of the survey are set out below:
- 73% of respondents said they trust the police, compared with 62% in the adult survey
- 36% of young Black people trust the police; 75% for those who are White
- Only 28% of Black Caribbean children and teenagers said they trust the police
- Trust in the police was lower among older children and girls, with Black girls the lowest of all among those surveyed, at 33%
- 58% of all children and teenagers who had been stopped and searched said they trust the police, compared with 74% of those who had not been stopped
- Young people in the East Midlands and Greater London had the lowest levels of trust in
The confidence gap
Black children are the only group of children who have less trust in the police than adults of the same ethnicity. Crest were able to compare the findings of this survey with another recently done with adults. This survey suggests that the ‘confidence gap’ in policing between Black communities and the rest of the population is likely to get wider, rather than narrower, unless urgent corrective action is taken: children, young adults and Black people who are the second or third generation of their family to live in the UK, all have substantially less trust in the police than those who are first generation.
Black children expressed concerns in both the survey and associated focus groups over the service they would receive from the police and if they would be treated fairly. The majority (60%) did not trust the police to treat people from different ethnic or religious backgrounds fairly, or to conduct stop and search fairly (55%).
This lack of trust meant that many Black children were reluctant to go to the police for help: 17% of all Black children and nearly one in four Black boys (24%) would not tell the police if they had been threatened with a weapon in their local area.
Children support Stop & Search but don’t trust the police to do it fairly
Children’s views on the use of stop and search powers are complex. The majority (61%) of
children agreed that knowing that the police are stopping and searching people in their area would
make them feel safer. However, this figure varies greatly by ethnicity: the same proportion (36%) of Black children agreed that they feel safer knowing that stop and search is being used, as
those who feel unsafe. This is compared to the clear majority (64%) of White children who
would feel safer.
Over a third (34%) of children felt that what they knew about stop and search had made them trust the police less. When broken down by ethnicity, it is clear that perceptions of stop and search have eroded the trust of Black children the most: 63% of Black children strongly or slightly agreed that they trusted the police less, as a result of what they knew about stop and search.
Stop and Search is traumatising
The research says that children find the experience of being stopped and searched traumatic, and
that it lowers their trust in the police. Only just over half (53%) of children who had been stopped and searched felt that the police officer had treated them with respect, and only 48% agreed that the police officer had properly explained their rights to them when they were searched.
Half of all children who had been stopped and searched stated that they trusted the police less as a result of this experience. More than half (52%) of children agreed that they had felt humiliated and embarrassed by the experience and half found the experience traumatic.
The findings from this research indicate that, overall, children are conflicted about the use of stop
and search. Many children stated that they would feel safer knowing that stop and search powers were being used; however, less than half of all children trusted the police to use these powers fairly.
For Black children, it is clear that many do not feel safe around the police and do not trust that police officers would treat them fairly or use stop and search powers appropriately. In addition, children who have been stopped and searched have lower levels of trust in the police, are less likely to feel safe around police officers, and are substantially less likely to talk to the police if they had been threatened with a weapon in their local area. That raises safeguarding concerns over how best to protect vulnerable children from harm.