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Arts & Listings



18 April 2012

Thierry Harcourt directs Dominic Taylor’s compelling new play, Stop Search, a gritty and hard-hitting look at the impact of police stop search powers that is right now in our papers’ headlines, writes Michael Holland... 

Amid growing concerns and mounting criticisms that people are over-policed and under-protected, Stop Search looks at the impact of police powers on two families thrown together one night. 

Callie is 13 years old and black and goes missing one night.  His parents, both successful professionals have little understanding of his life outside the family home and the drama young people must play out in the public space.  Stop Search is a revealing dissection of the social and political tensions, which underpin our society and asks whether public confidence and trust in the UK criminal justice system is breaking down?

Stop Search is Dominic Taylor’s second play.  He trained as an actor before becoming a Senior Prison Officer in HMP Brixton for four years.  I got to talk to the writer to find out where Stop Search came from: “My understanding is that journeys into prison begin at home, in schools, on the streets, at every imaginable place of work, in every combination of circumstance and condition, but there are common, repeating patterns,” he told me.  “I'd seen the
radiating damage of people coming out of prison as confused as they went in.”

As well as that inside perspective, Dominic had other reasons to research and write his play: “The scale of the problem is horrifying. Conversations with friends and colleagues about our different experiences of raising teenage boys brought it alive, not just as statistics. Gathering personal testimonies, it became overwhelming,” he said. “There was a sense that this was a hidden, untold, or ignored story, shared, in many of the essential details, by a lot of people.”

What he told me next made my flesh turn to duckling: “I think the damage done to children and families by this abusive approach to policing will come to be seen as analogous to the scandal of clergy-abuse!”

He concluded with, “A large number of people in positions of trusted authority are severely damaging a very large number of young people.” Stop Search will, no doubt, be a very moving and crucial play.

Broadway Theatre,
Catford, London SE6 4RU   
27 April to 26 May
Mon – Sat at 8pm. Sat mats 4pm,
 Weds and Thurs mats 2pm
Box Office: 020 8690 0002 /
 Prices: £14.50 concs £11.00

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