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The PCC Accountability Assembly

The final push to get Nottingham citizens to vote in the Police and Crime Commissioner election on Thursday 15th November took place on Monday night at Trent Vineyard.

Representatives of community groups, religious faiths, ethnicities, local schools, and students gathered at the Nottingham Citizens PCC Accountability Assembly on Monday night to present their ‘Five Asks’ to the PCC candidates.

Nottingham University students were represented by their Students’ Union President, Amos Teshuva, and Community Officer, Sian Green. Over 250 Nottingham students also attended the assembly to “make their voice heard,” said Teshuva.

Over 250 Nottingham students  attended the assembly to “make their voice heard.”

The five proposals were presented to the candidates by a series of panelists, including Teshuva who helped chair the debate. The ‘asks’ identified several issues that Nottingham Citizens felt needed to be addressed by the future Police and Crime Commissioner, including safer schools, sensible stop and searches, a safer city centre and safer taxis. The candidates were also asked to pledge to develop a relationship between Nottingham community groups, citizens and students.

When talking about the demand for sensible stop and searches, panelist Vimbai Mutimutema, head girl at a local school, highlighted the statistics that led to the second ask. Out of 3137 Nottingham stop and searches in the last 12 months, numbers show you are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black, and four times more likely if you are Asian than if you are from a white background.

You are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black, and four times more likely if you are Asian than if you are from a white background.

“I certainly don’t think its acceptable that in 21st century Nottingham people are still judged by the colour of their skin. And what’s even worse is that stereotypes based on race are allowed to be an active function within an institution like the police force,” said Mutimutema.

Candidates were asked to pledge to all five asks, and once the proposals were set out by the panelists, each individual had the chance to respond. Both Paddy Tipping and Malcolm Spencer agreed to some of the asks but said that they will not commit to policies they would not be able to implement, or issue promises they will not be able to commit.

“Stereotypes based on race are allowed to be an active function within an institution like the police force.”

Between each response the audience heard affecting accounts and testimonials from Nottingham citizens who had previously encountered unprofessionalism, discrimination or abuse from the Police.

Bishop Paul Thomas of the New Testament Church of God delivered a particularly emotive testimony. “It was a wet evening so I put my hood up. When I reached my car I fumbled with my keys and dropped them under the car. I was then stopped by three police officers who searched me before I could explain that my keys were under my car,” he said.

“One officer then made a comment about the colour of my skin.”

“My years of service in the military; my professional status as an ordained bishop; my culture and my hopes for Nottingham; what I contribute to this city. It doesn’t mean a thing next to the colour of my skin. Imagine how it feels to be treated like that by the police, who you argue for in your pulpit, who’s taxes you pay, who you work to build relationships with.”

PCC candidates responded to these testimonies and the five asks that were proposed to them. Tony Roberts said that stop and searches “must be used fairly and effectively, and must not be seen as harassment of certain sections of our community”.

“My years of service in the military; my professional status as an ordained bishop; my culture and my hopes for Nottingham; what I contribute to this city. It doesn’t mean a thing next to the colour of my skin.”

Tipping and Roberts both emphasised the importance of safer schools, saying “children are our future: we need to protect them,” while Dr. Raj Chandran pointed out that he was the only candidate who stated the importance of safer taxis in Nottingham in his agenda.

There will be polling stations across Nottingham, including Lenton, Dunkirk, Wollaton and on campus. Polling stations will be open for registered voters from 7am to 10pm.

Antonia Paget

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Image: bbc.co.uk

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