Section 30. Effective or Not?

Young people and youth workers
Young people and youth workers

Story: Rob Smith

As my first report on my return to the Messenger as a volunteer I’ve been finding out how young people feel about the new Section 30 dispersal orders recently placed on the areas of Spital Hill and Ellesmere.

It particularly affects the Bressingham area and the rear of the Vestry hall where a lot of local youths congregate after school hours and weekends.

Approaching a group of five or so young men who were stood in the car park and leaning by the wall of the Somali café, I quickly enquired if they had any idea about Section 30 and what it meant to them.

“Its bullshit,” shouted one of the group claiming, “They don’t do it in other areas.” “The more rules they make the more get broken,” added an older boy.

After talking to a few young men it became apparent that there had been a confrontation with the police on Wednesday 18th January. One of the guys admitted to being the subject of that confrontation outside the Vestry Hall. He informed me that officers had approached him and due to being nervous his action caused them to over react, adding that he was not charged or convicted of anything after the event.

Fruit smoothies
Fruit smoothies

Going inside the Vestry Hall it was fully active with young people. Diane Haimeed and Amin Qassim, both senior qualified youth workers, explain how up to a hundred young people attend the sessions at any one time. Opening three days a week, it not only allows these local young people shelter from the street corners its also provides encouragement into more positive alternative activities.

I asked some of the young men how they felt about the centre being here and what they thought of the Section 30. “It’s a cool place to chill here,” said a young man playing on the pool table. Agreeing with him, his competitor Abdi added he would feel angry if it wasn’t open for them. Although not aware of what Section 30 meant Abdi, like others, was there when the dispersal orders were carried out following an incident outside the centre a week before.

All the young people I met spoke highly of the provision they have here and are glad of having somewhere safe off the street. Gulied Jama, a young Youth worker who has been in the service for 3 years told me “Allowing the young people a place to socialise and meet their friends indoors is positive and needed around this area.” Hamed, in his late teens, said he knew that Section 30 meant not being able to hang around in a group of more than two people. He added he thought it was nonsense. “Not everyone in a group is doing bad stuff…. The police always approach us with aggression. This causes more tension leading us into refusing to move.”

Also in his late teens, another young man, said he thought it was ridiculous. “We are always going to hang round with a bag of friends.” He added that the area around the Vestry and the youth club was the only place they can chill. “I have associations with more than one person but meeting three or four friends will put me in direct confrontation with this Section 30.”

Referring to the incident that took place on the 18th, he added that the Police became very disrespectful towards all the people. “They began trying to agitate us into confrontation.”

Mustafa said it was the good who get blamed for the actions of others. “We don’t all sell drugs, but we like to hang in groups. We feel safer and don’t think the Police should tell us we can’t.”

Saleem suggested it was a bad law that creates more problems “because we like to hang around in groups.” I asked him why they liked hanging in groups. “ It’s more fun to associate with more people especially when you’re at our age …We meet in numbers to go and play football or arrange other things to do…If they try stopping us doing this we will hate them and this will cause more problems.”

Ahmed, age 21, added, “When normal people, like the old, see us in large groups they can feel intimidated. I think in some way the order could be good, but the way it has been implemented needs to be more tactful and sensitive.”

Diane and Amin told us about more positive stuff they have going on in the centre, including job support, and plans for a youth work training course and job related training. However, they confirmed reports that there had been a very volatile incident outside the facility around 5pm Wednesday 18th.

Police used the dispersal after being called to the area by the mounted police officer. There were angry exchanges between a large number of youths and seven Police officers. There were complaints that the situation was not helped by the attitude of the police towards young people and the youth workers.

Amin explained, “In order to prevent this sort of tension it’s important that the police work with others on the ground. As youth workers who have a better relationship with the young people…If we don’t work together when an incident occurs, then tension will probably rise like it did last Wednesday.”

The Messenger spoke to senior Police Officer Daniel Laycock,

“This is an isolated incident of assault at the Vestry Hall, the victim of the assault became aggressive and a hostile crowd had gathered around the two mounted officers who called for assistance.

“As supervisor at the scene I feel the incident was managed very swiftly and effectively by officers that were present. In relation to this I understand that people may question police tactics and methods and I am happy to discuss this with them in person once I re visit the Vestry Hall.

“Again, this was an isolated incident of assault and there have been no incidents since. The Section 30 order remains in place and is having the desired effect at present which is what we are been told by residents and partners.”

Daniel Laycock has since visited the centre and to meet youth workers. Agreement was reached that the incident could have been handled better and commitments were made to develop more positive relationships with young people and youth workers at the centre.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Saleema Imam on 2012-02-02 14:53:49.
The content of the page was last modified by Douglas Johnson on 2012-02-05 18:57:33.

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