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Rugby being used by policy to break down barriers with vulnerable teenagers | UK News

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It’s 20 minutes into their shift and officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Tactical Support Group have stopped an all-too familiar suspect.

The driver, a man in his 20s, has been pulled over in Lewisham, south London.

But he isn’t happy, saying he’s been stopped and searched for no reason.

Police in London
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Police say their stop and search power saves lives.

With the number of people killed on the capital’s streets at its highest since 2008, the police say stop and search saves lives.

“We have done a check on the male and have found class A drugs and a weapon in his vehicle,” said Sergeant Chris Bright.

This has become almost commonplace in communities blighted by violent crime across London.

Police stop and search
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With the government’s backing, the Met is using stop and search more often

In an attempt to tackle the problem, the Met Taskforce is delivering sport activities such as rugby in secondary schools, targeting young people most at risk of being drawn into violence.

“By doing what we are doing I am hoping we are breaking down barriers,” said PC Marvyn Snelgrove.

“These projects are all about going into schools in plain clothes and being able to build on those trust issues that exist.”

Are rugby sessions, targeted at teenagers in areas worst for violent youth crime, the answer to stopping knife crime?

Students at Harris Academy in Peckham seem to think so.

“Knife crime is getting higher and a lot of people are getting stabbed so things like this are good. You just have to act calm when the police stop you,” said Naijja.

The 15-year-old said that despite being stopped twice by the police he understands why the tactic is often used in his borough.

Another pupil Brooklyn, 15, was stopped last year while walking down his high street. His views have changed since engaging with the officers.

He said: “I feel if you don’t trust a police officer it’s because you know you have done something wrong.

“If the police start teaching the young generation why they may be getting stopped then they may better understand why it is being done.”

Students are asked to deal with several scenarios with them acting as police officers. By doing this, officers say they can understand the difficulties in making the right decisions based on the information put in front of them.

The pupils do a role play where they pretend to be police handling cases
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Students are asked to deal with several scenarios with them acting as police officers

In the past nine years, five students from Harris Academy have been killed. The most recent is 17-year-old Malcolm Mide-Madariola, who was stabbed to death outside Clapham South tube station in November last year.

Teacher Lisa Clifford said: “He was a lovely young man, very popular. He stepped into help a situation and ended up getting stabbed and killed. It really hit us hard. His brother was in year 11 at the time.

“Words cannot describe how it hit our community. When our students leave school, we are very worried about them so we are doing all we can to protect them.”

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With the government’s backing, the Met is using stop and search more often.

Sergeant Chris Bright, a rugby coach in his spare time, believes schemes such as this are essential in the force’s fight against knife crime, but acknowledges it will take some time to see the results.

He said: “It is harrowing for my officers to turn up to scenes where a young person has been stabbed and is bleeding to death on the street, but if we can keep educating children from a young age to ensure they make the right life choices then we can really make a difference.”

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