Socialist Worker

Standing up against harassment

Issue No. 2314

The Pembury estate in Hackney  (Pic: Denney on Flickr )

The Pembury estate in Hackney (Pic: Alan Denney on Flickr)

The Stop Criminalising Hackney Youth campaign was set up in the weeks after the riots. Some 150 people came to a public meeting on the riots, including many from nearby estates who saw riots on their doorstep.

A year on, the campaign is still going. Sadie King is part of it and lives on the Pembury Estate.

“We’re challenging the stereotyping about people who live on council estates, about young people, about why the riots happened,” she said. “Just by existing we’ve changed some of that discussion.

“It’s about supporting people, whether it’s on the street or in the courts. You have to stand your ground, stand with the families—and don’t allow for one minute this idea of ‘feral youth’.”

Hilary also lives on the Pembury Estate. She was involved in the campaign when police arrested her son over the riots. She said, “Police stop and search the boys every day. They’re aggressive, they throw them on the floor, call out six vans for one little boy.


“The local police know some of the boys have nothing on them, and they’re still stopped and searched constantly. They can’t walk down the street to go to the shop.”

The year before the riots there were many dispersal zones in Hackney, including one on the estate. They prevent young people from moving in groups of more than two.

“If you criminalise youth for so long they’re going to just give in,” said Hilary, “because they're getting harassed whether they're doing it or not.”

The campaign runs street stalls raising issues like stop and search and dispersal zones. Its petition has just gathered enough signatures to force a debate in Hackney council.

Sadie said, “It gives people in the community who haven’t had the confidence to say they don’t agree with what’s gone on the chance to come up to us on the street.

“And they do stop and they do sign. The media and politicians might not get it, but people in Hackney do.”

The August Riots: one year on

Stop Criminalising Hackney Youth is holding a public meeting on stop-and-search and the riots. It takes place on Thursday 6 September. For more information email or go to

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Tue 31 Jul 2012, 16:51 BST
Issue No. 2314
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