New zine project launched!

A Black woman with a turquoise afro sits at a desk with her hand under her chin. She is wearing a white T shirt with craft equipment illustrations on it. Behind her is a turquoise painted wall with a picture covered noticeboard on it

We’re mega excited to launch a new community zine project, in collaboration with zine and textile artist Seleena Laverne Day, and poet Ella Otomewo.

After the success of our first zine, Centre, (launched in 2020), we wanted to continue to find creative ways to connect our community in these challenging times. This project has been made possible through funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The project will take submissions from LGBTQ+ people throughout the North of England and Midlands, with Seleena curating and designing a brand new zine, to be published in Autumn this year.

An A5 bright yellow zine sits on a purple surface. It has the words 'Centre Zine' in bold black lettering across it with a plum triangle placed on top.
Our first zine, Centre, published in October 2020

And even more excitingly, we’re pleased that we will be offering creative workshops in zine making and creative writing, both online and IN PERSON as part of this project!

Workshops are planned for members of the public to take part in this July. Special workshops for groups including Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield, students in Further and Higher Education, and Older LGBTQ+ people are also planned. More details to be announced, but if you know of anyone that fits those categories, please do spread the word.

Its important to us that this zine reflects an even wider spectrum of LGBTQ+ voices, and that our community helps shape it at different stages.

So to kick off the project we want YOUR ideas for the theme of the zine. Seleena Laverne Daye has been busy generating ideas, so spare us 3 mins and head to our online form to pick out your fave idea!

The aim of this project is to connect all ages of LGBTQ+ people during this challenging time. We are very aware of the isolation younger and older people may have faced owing to the pandemic, and hope this project will provide social connection and positive experiences for our LGBTQ+ community.

Sign up to our newsletter through the link below to be the first to hear more about our upcoming workshops!

Stop the scandal

As part of Centre zine, we chose to highlight the Stop the Scandal Campaign. This grassroots campaign was created by Yorkshire’s Racial Justice Network and supported by Yorkshire Resists. They wrote the following piece for our new zine, which is on sale now. 50% of profits from sales of Centre zine, will be donated to the Racial Justice Network. Read on to find out more about Stop the Scandal.

The Stop The Scan campaign challenges a move initiated by West Yorkshire Police in 2019 to introduce mobile fingerprint scanning linked to immigration databases, using equipment funded by the Home Office.

These biometric devices are used with officers’ mobile phones, as they detain people in the street. This adds an extra, dangerous dimension to Stop and Search protocol, which according to the government’s own research, disproportionately targets Black and Brown people (with Black people 10 times more likely to be targeted by police¹).

The technology is used once police officers have deemed an offence to have been committed. This could be anything from loitering to dropping litter. If the officer doubts the given identity from the person detained, they may then use a scan of their fingerprints in order to carry out a person search on their identity. It’s crucial to emphasise that an officer uses their own discretion to determine how authentic your given identity is, a subjective judgement, which in the campaign’s view, has the potential to even further discriminate against trans people within Black and Brown communities.

Black painted text says 'Hands off our prints' with a stylised fingerprint placed behind some prison bars to the left

Scans like this have only previously been carried out at police stations following an arrest. But what future lies ahead, where one’s dignity is stripped down and reduced to the opinion of a police officer, and a frequently inconclusive fingerprint machine?

The officer may choose to check identity against records held on IABS (the immigration fingerprint database). Stop and Scan is part of an immigration system that a 2019 inquiry into the Windrush scandal showed, to hold not only “poor quality systems and data”, but a “failure to monitor the impact of compliant environment measures” (now known as hostile environment measures)². A flag on the database – which could exist for any type of activity – may prompt a call to Home Office enforcers, heightening the risk of entering indefinite detention, or being deported.

The question remains: why use a device which could only identify those with fingerprints either on the IABS or criminal database, IDENT1?

The Stop The Scan campaign was created by the Racial Justice Network and supported by Yorkshire Resists. We are a network of individuals and organisations working together to end racial injustice. Our campaign is about alerting you to the racist nature of the intrusive power that biometric technology extends to the police. These technologies are being introduced, but they lack any meaningful scrutiny of their impact on the communities that the police are supposed to protect.

After the pilot by West Yorkshire Police ended, no evaluation of its use and impact was done before the technology was rolled out nationally.

Aside from West Yorkshire Police, no other police force is publicly recording the ethnicity of the people they are stopping and scanning. The lack of transparency makes it difficult to ensure that the use of this technology does not target certain communities unfairly.

In response to what we know, and what we can only speculate, the Stop the Scan campaign is calling for:

  1. The dismantling of the Hostile Environment: the UK must be a safe place for all people to seek and live a decent life.
  2. The severance of all links between the Police and Immigration, including a firewall between the police and all Home Office databases.
  3. An end to Stop and Scan.

We are looking for support from people able to help raise awareness, to advise on the shifting legal rights landscape during the pandemic, for advisors who may help construct a legal challenge to the roll out, and for people who have been scanned and are willing to offer their experience as a case study.

To find out more, visit StopTheScan.co.uk and search the #StopTheScandal and #EndStopAndScan hashtags. To get involved in supporting the work, email [email protected].

Sources:

  1. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn03878/

2.https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmpubacc/1518/151806.htm#_idTextAnchor025

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