2017 - 2020

Fighting Sus

In England and Wales, the ‘sus law’ became the informal name for section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 which permitted a police officer to stop and potentially convict individuals as ‘suspected persons.’ Section 4 was repealed in 1981 following uprisings in Brixton.” Why was Victorian legislation intended to prevent ‘begging’ ‘showing wounds’ and ‘telling fortunes’, used to criminalise minority groups in the 1970s and 1980s? Who brought a stop to it? Who is under suspicion today?

Fighting SUS was a youth-led oral history project which investigated the near 200-year history of the sus law and its legacy, through oral histories with individuals affected and archival research. The young people’s creative responses to the histories they gathered were presented in the form of a performance, a film and an illustrated book.

Visit the Fighting Sus website

Watch the film here

Discover the book here

Project partners included Journey to Justice, Voices that Shake, Beyond Past and Bishopsgate Institute, where the Fighting Sus archive is based. Project co-ordinators were Patrice Etienne and Rosa Kurowska, with support and training provided by Rosa Schling and Laura Mitchison.

Kindly supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to the contributions of National Lottery players and the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust.

"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. Yeah?" - Hugh Boatswaine