“Why Us?” Possil Kids Speak Out

The Burgh Angel has learned that a trial ‘Dispersal Zone’ in Possil
led to the targeting of young children by police.

From 4 December 2010 until 14 March 2011, a square mile of Possil,
including Saracen and Hamiltonhill, was covered by a dispersal order
giving police the right to disperse groups of two or more people.
Anyone refusing to disperse was for a fine of up to £2,500 and/or
imprisonment for up to three months.

This is a transcript of a group discussion Dawn Hunter held in March
with seven children, aged between 10 and 13, in Possil. They have been
named A to G to protect their privacy.

Have any of you had any direct contact with the police regarding the
dispersal order?
A: Every one of us probably. Every night you go out you see the
police. They just hassle us.
C: When you’re walking about they just stop you and question you.
E: They ask you for your details.
A: Your name, address, date of birth, phone number, school.
F: What you had for dinner.

Do they ever split you up?
A: All the time.
F: I was dispersed when me and my pals were walking home from school.
B: Even if we’re just walking to the shop, they’re just waiting to
disperse us. Like if I have to go down the shops for my mum, I can’t
go with any of my pals because we’ll get dispersed.
D: Me and three of my pals were walking home from football and a
couple of older guys started shouting stuff and the police dispersed
us but not them.

Do they tell you where to go?
G: They don’t care as long as its outside the zone.
F: Me and some of my pals have been told just to get right out of an
area altogether.
D: Aye, excluded, that’s called.

That’s called an exclusion?
D: Aye, so if you stay in the jungle [semi-derelict residential area
just off Saracen Street] because of the dispersal order the police
just stop you even if you’re by yourself and you’re walking down to Possil.
A: I’ve been pulled up hundreds of times for breaching the exclusion
because I stay there.

So how does that make you feel?
A: Pure raging because they’re pure cheeky to you sometimes.
B: They make me feel really disrespected. They treat us like we’re
not part of the scheme and that we’re just out for trouble, when all we want to do is just play football and hang out with our pals.

Do you think the police are targeting you specifically?
G: They don’t bother stopping everybody. See if a group of older
people were to be walking by, the police wouldn’t bother with them.
F: The police are rude to us, there’s just no need. We’re normal
people and so are they, so why do they act like this?
B: But the thing is, see when they’re being cheeky to you, you don’t
want to talk to them. See if they speak to you like a human, then I’m
alright with them.

So what kind of activities is this stopping you from doing?
F: We got pulled up for standing at the bus stop on the way home from school.
D: If you’re walking along the road at night going to get a big game
of football, the police will pull you up.
B: We were going out to the bowling and we decided to stop and get
something to eat and they stopped us all and searched us. I had some
money on me for something to eat, because the club was paying for the
bowling and the police were like, “that won’t pay for your bowling,
where are you really going?”

How many of you have been searched?
[7 out of 8 put their hands up]

Do they tell you why they’re searching you? Do you tell you what law they’re searching you under?
(Several) No.

What about if you were to leave here tonight in a group?
G: We’d get split up.
B: We got pulled up and dispersed leaving here last week.
D: Usually after this we’d leave here in a group and go and get
something to eat but we can’t.

How many people round about your age do you think are being affected by this?
B: All of us.
A: I’ve heard of wee weans at 6 being told to disperse.
B: Aye, and because of that people from different schemes have
started coming down here.

People from different schemes are coming to Possil? What have they
started coming here for?
B: To cause trouble, start fights and that. Usually it’s because they
know you’re not going to be cutting about with your pals.
A: I’m wondering, though, if there’s four police cutting about, can
we tell them to disperse?
E: Aye exactly!

Have any of your families said that they’re sick of you getting pulled up?
(Several) Aye!
F: My granny complained, my dad complained, my mum complained…

Who can they complain to?
F: Haha, the police!

How do you feel about the police now?
G: I can’t stand them.
B: They’re a joke.
F: I never had any bother off of the police in my life before this
all started and now I’m getting booked left right and centre.

What do you think about the police and the council, who decided there should be a dispersal order on Possil?
B: Why this scheme?
E: Why us? This place had really calmed down before the dispersal,
it’s not like it used to be.
G: There should have been a vote for the people in the area about the
dispersal order.
E: Aye, everybody over the age of 12 should have been allowed to vote about it.
B: Definitely, we should have had a say because it’s gave us a bad name.
F: It was on the news and all that, now people think that everybody
from Possil is scum.

Do you have anything else you want to say about the dispersal order?
E: Aye, it better no come back!
A: My attitude has changed because I never used to bother with the
police, I used to quite like them. But see if they’re going to lift me
now, I might as well give them something to lift me for.

You can read the full interview at
http://thecommune.co.uk/2011/05/22/possilpark-dispersal-zone/

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