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Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott & STOP AND SEARCH…

Diane Abbott and Gabriel Gbadamosi (writer), credit Ankesh Shah.
Diane Abbott and Gabriel Gbadamosi (writer), credit Ankesh Shah.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott puts Arcola Theatre’s STOP AND SEARCH at the heart of the UK Parliament.

Diane Abbott has hosted a performance from Gabriel Gbadamosi’s urgent new play, STOP AND SEARCH, in the House of Commons – a month ahead of its world premiere production.

It comes as the Home Secretary Sajid Javid is preparing to give police new ‘stop and search’ powers in an attempt to curb knife crime, and police chiefs are seeking to scrap the requirement that “reasonable grounds” are needed before a person can be subjected to a search. Yet a recent report for the campaign group StopWatch found that the tactic undermines young people’s trust and confidence in the police, and has the potential to increase criminal behaviour.

Speaking at the event in the House of Commons on 6 December, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “It’s funny, bad ideas go around and come around – and stop and search is a bad idea which is coming around again. If it’s evidence-based stop and search, all is well and good. But it’s not an effective tool for things like knives and gang crime and so on. So I’m glad that you’re looking at this important subject. I’m glad to be able to host this event.

Playwright Gabriel Gbadamosi said: “My play looks at the deep ambivalence we feel in the ways that we police one another. Stop and search is supposed to address knife crime, terrorism, drugs related violence but actually what it’s doing is compounding the segmentation of the population. Eight black people get stopped for every white person. If some people are not free, everyone is not free. So the play is a way to explore what’s happening with these discriminatory regimes.

The play was commissioned by Arcola Theatre, and will open there on 14 January, with previews from the 9 January, and runs until 9 February. It will be directed by Arcola’s Artistic Director, Mehmet Ergen.

Director Mehmet Ergen said: “Arcola is proud to be contributing to the discussion around this vital issue in our city today. We all want to see less crime and more cohesion, but how to achieve that is complex, and there are many different perspectives. I think Gabriel’s is really worth hearing. With STOP AND SEARCH he has written a play which is about far more than one policy, or one debate. It is about the fundamental ways that we relate to each other; things we need to discuss, but don’t often examine.

In the past year, Arcola’s programme of socially and politically engaged new plays has included Rabiah Hussain’s Spun, about the experiences of British-Pakistani Muslim girls in East London; Daniel York Loh’s Forgotten 遗忘, about the Chinese Labour Corps who joined the Allies in WW1; and Oladipo Agboluaje’s New Nigerians, about political change in modern Nigeria.

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