By Sarah Lawson
SALISBURY Arts Centre was full of motion and commotion on Tuesday as young people from all over Wiltshire took part in a day of dance, drama, rapping and drumming workshops for a “Stop and Search Explained” event.
Stop and search powers help the police to combat street crime and violence, and prevent the possession of dangerous weapons. Officers are entitled to stop people at random and carry out full body searches.
Around 22 young people aged between 11 to 16, joined representatives from Wiltshire Police in workshops focusing around the themes of individual rights, identity and respect.
They were taught by professional teachers from around the country including Tiffany Powell and Sarah Butcher from Salisbury Playhouse who ran a drama workshop.
The day culminated in a final performance and a “question and answer” session between the children and a variety of community representatives and criminal justice agencies.
The event was supported by a number of organisations including Wiltshire Criminal Justice Board, Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Social Equality Council.
Each workshop aimed to make children aware of the “stop and search” powers through the medium of dance, drama and rapping.
Organiser, Sonia Carr, vice-chairman of the Wiltshire Racial Equality Council and secretary of the West Wiltshire Community Club, came up with the idea to educate and engage with children on serious and unsettling matters.
Chief inspector Simon Dicks from Wiltshire Police said: “These workshops are to help the young people understand why the police service and the criminal justice system need the power of stop and search.
“We want to help communities understand why we stop and search, and want to breakdown the mistrust between young people and the police.”
Jack Lamb, 11, who took part in the drumming activity said: “I now understand what the police are doing, and how it is affecting us.”