By Isobelle Degale, Masters student, University of Sussex
My summer placement at the British Library is now coming to an end. As a Masters student studying Human Rights, I contacted the UK Web Archiving team based at the British Library as a way to enrich my understanding of the sources available on London policing, specifically looking at stop and search procedure.
The first few days of the placement I learnt how to add online content onto the UK Web Archives using the 'Annotation and Curation Tool' (ACT). I learnt how to add 'targets' (web addresses) to the web archive using ACT and the importance of crawl frequency of different sources. Over the last few weeks I have been researching and selecting content to add to the online collections: Black and Asian Britain and Caribbean Communities in the UK.
Having previously studied history, including the impact of the British Empire during my undergraduate degree, I also have an interest in the Windrush generation and have been selecting content such as websites, podcast links, videos and documentaries. I have also gained hands on experience in web archiving through emailing website authors requesting permission for open access of their content.
As my summer dissertation discusses discrimination and disproportionality of London stop and searches, I have also been adding related content to the UK Web Archive. I have gathered content such as news articles, twitter accounts of activists, grassroots websites and publications from racial equality think tanks that highlight the disproportionality of stop and searches on young BME (Black and Ethnic Minorities) peoples and communities, which is the central debate of this topic. My dissertation specifically explores the experiences and perspectives of those stopped and searched. I have noted that there is a gap on the web which explores and expresses the opinions of those who are more likely to be stopped, despite the abundance of news reports and statistics on the topic.
My experience with the web archiving team has opened up my thoughts to the value of archiving online content, as with the breadth and depth of the web, socially and culturally important web sites can easily be overlooked if not archived.
I hope that my contribution over the weeks will be useful in documenting the cultural and social celebration of black and Asian communities in Britain, but also demonstrating that there are negative experiences of black and ethnic minority Britons that make up an important part of daily life and should not be ignored. As a human rights student I feel that it is important in recognising inequality in both past and present Britain. I am, therefore, grateful to the Web Archiving team for the opportunity to add to the UK Web Archive the much debated topic of London stop and searches that will hopefully provide insight and information into the subject.