Hugh Boatswain

Hugh is a poet who grew up in Hackney during the 1970s at the height of the SUS era. Previously housing inspector at the Audit Commission and Assistant Director of Inspection at the Housing Corporation, he currently works for Camden Council

Hugh Boatswain:
“You see, to commit a crime, they’ve got to prove that you were doing something, yeah? With sus it was just someone’s opinion that they think you could be committing a crime. And based on an old law that was the very old Vagrancy Act in the 1800s, which was suddenly brought back and used in the 1970s – and, you know, let’s be clear about this – sus was not used against white youths, it was only predominantly used against young black youths between the age of fourteen and 25, yeah? They were the main targets. So you knew as a young person if you were going out in the evenings you had to be aware of where you were, you had to be aware of who you were with and you had to be aware of what you were doing, yeah? And you had to learn to look at where is the best place to run when things went down.”