"Actually, apps can be good" news now, and drugs law charity Release are launching a stop and search app just in time for Carnival, the annual day of stop and search, the day that the police force get down on their knees and thank the patron saint of stop and search for the powers they are granted to ticket people for holding extremely small baggies with trace amounts of drugs in.
Developed with the same people who did the Stop & Frisk Watch app in New York three years ago, Y-Stop is pretty simple: after you get stopped, mark the incident on a GPS map so that Release can collect data and start figuring out the whens, wheres, whys and whos of stop and search culture. If you're not happy with your police encounter, you can use the simple form to make a complaint directly to your local force, with the report CC'd to Release for a third party eye-on.
Yes, obviously: nobody likes a grass. Hating snitches and wanting to give them stitches is what controls the tides, and compels volcanoes to erupt. Animals sleep and seasons change based on the pure energy that comes with insisting blabbers get stabbed. And this is basically an app that does that.
But the whole point of making the police accountable for their actions is to minimise stop and searches in the future: one of the police force's go-to defences of the practice is to cite that stop and search is fine, really, because they don't get that many complaints about it, so how bad can it be, really, if they don't get that many complaints? With a more streamlined complaint system, that might change.
And there's good reason to call the stop and search use into question: as an Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report found in November 2013, stop and search is still being used disproportionately, with black people being six times more likely (and, in some areas, up to 29 times as likely) to be stopped and searched as white people. Over a million searches are made each year, but on average only 9 percent lead to an arrest, which means 900,000 are left feeling hassled unnecessarily. And if that's happening at Carnival then it's properly going to bring down the vibe.
Anyway, if you're at Carnival this weekend there will be wristbands and things with QR codes on them so you can pick up Y-Stop there, or just go to the App Store from September 1 like everyone else.