Blame Games: Riots and Responsibilities
Report commissioned by Guardian and LSE into the riots dug up the unsurprising finding that many people who were out on the streets in August are unhappy with the police. Interviews broadcast on World at One yesterday (5th December) had people on Clarence Road saying, “They’re horrible especially to black people” and “when they know you’re different they don’t like it.” Testimonies of discrimination and humiliation abound (see link above). Black people, an earlier LSE study showed, are 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. Tim Orde, chairman of Association of Chief Police Officers, says people should take more responsibility.
It was a typical radio report. Interview someone with something interesting to say. Challenge them from the right. Interview establishment. Challenge them from a moderate leftish position. Let them have the last word. Orde started with the usual ‘bad apple’ excuses and then lied about how the police monitor themselves: “We’ve always been relentless” in rooting out etc. “zero tolerance”, “robust approach” for officers who “behave out of [sic] the rules of law” etc. Strange to note then how “Over 300 people have died in police custody since 1998, yet no police officer has ever been brought to justice” (UCAPV)
He went on to blame “consumerism” (is he an anti-capitalist?!) and then quickly corrected himself to “criminal consumerism”. Ah, I see, there is good looting and bad looting. Like good violence bad violence. Good wars/bad wars. Good drugs/Bad drugs. Good fraud/Bad fraud. The age old liberal excuse for immorality and double standards.
He finished, muttering something about the irony (a word he does not appear to understand) of asking “criminals” to explain their actions and then an outright condemnation of those who have “no sort of sense of social obligation” and who “simply chose to blame other people”.
Well Sir Pot – enough of you lot been calling kettles black for too long now. You have been told clearly and directly that you’re actions are to blame and yet you “simply chose to blame others”. This report portrays onces again an impression of power-wielding police imposing themselves gang-like on people chosen in superficial selection procedures.
Enough is enough. Tweet it speak it make it happen: End Stop and Search. It fits with no view of justice that I understand. If you stop on suspicion then you are asking officers to be prejudiced. Their prejudices are overwhelmingly on class, race and age lines. What do they normally find? Drugs mainly I suspect. OK right now [illegal] drugs are illegal. But illegal drugs are not the exclusive property of the young, the non-white and the working class. Far from it. If they stopped more middle aged white people out late in the right areas they’d find drugs on them too.
There are many other models of policing that are much more democratic and less hierarchic. The force could be reshaped into public servants, repsonding to calls from the public rather than choosing when to interfere and employing “tactics” of control. The first step to regaining some sort of control over their behaviour is to end ‘suspicion’ as any reasonable grounds to interfere, arrest or harrass.