policeproblem - Policing - a perpetually problematic issue

The Met Police clearly have read the room wrongly and they’re not the only police force to achieve this highly esteemed status with alarming regularity. The notion they are (or were) one of the best police forces in the world no longer rings true, it hasn’t for several decades despite people still advocating that line of thought until at least the start of the COVID pandemic. In fact giving them (and other forces) greater and more unequal powers (such as under the proposed Police Crime Sentencing and Courts bill) is going to make this backwards, paramilitary force, worst than ever. Greater punishment for those who bring down statues than for those who rape women! Some politicians and law invigilators simply don’t understand things enough as it were. What on earth is this world coming to?

Some might think I’m advocating anarchy chaos, lawlessness, destruction etc. Far from it. I’m strict on the law and law breaking, a far greater advocate of morals and strict law keeping – more so than the inept Met itself – I could give you a roll call of officers whom I have encountered (and seen how they work in such a biased way against disabled people like me) but that isn’t relevant at the moment – I do not think the police are fit for purpose these days, they haven’t been for a long time, and it clearly shows. They were not even fit to start with but Britain’s pride in policing has sort of clouded that history and the country, its politicians and police advocates and those who do in fact admire the police often harp on the fact ‘the public are the police and the police are the public.’

Its never really been a fact, rather its a way of making anyone comfortable in the knowledge that police apparently are doing the job they are meant to be. They haven’t for a very long time, they haven’t in fact since they were first set up. However as the decades drew on it seemed policing would at least gain credibility and the fight against crime would carry considerable substance, and people would realise that stealing, raping, embezzlement, murder, traffic violations, kidnapping and so many other things were simply not worth it. exactly. Policing was supposed to be a means of reassuring people criminals of any sort simply would not be allowed to flourish. As it stands we’ve never seen the end of crime or disorder – in fact its flourished even more greatly than before!

One of the biggest issues for me is how the police are so entrenched in the past. They are backwards. You might think ‘wow this is some crap notion conceived by some dubious London blogger.’ Well you’d be quite right – except there is a madness to it. The police are supposed to fight crime to bring an order about to society but more often than not they are bringing the past to the future and it shows. And that is of course because they are the past. In a simple way the complexities of a modern society means they, despite their ‘advanced techniques’ and their increased ‘detection rates’, the act of misdeed that is committed by people is going up. Rapes for example have increased enormously, yet the actual rate of catching rapists, that being the attrition rate has dropped alarmingly. Another appalling aspect of the police is their desire to fight crime but what they do in fact is they disenfranchise people and communities and instead of fighting, preventing crime, they accelerate it. They cause the very conditions that allow poor and disenfranchised communities to become more daring, more ennobled in carrying knives, touting guns, dealing with drugs and the rest of it. Crime is a construct anyway and the police too are a construct so there is some serious shit going on because each side has their morals and rules of engagement and both think they are right thus there’s no sort of harmony between these massively socially constructed elements.

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Bobbies in the Metropolitan Police circa 1860. Source: Twitter

In fact in previous articles I have written on the police, one of the aims was to get rid of crime and then there would be no need for policing anymore. That was one of the aspirations of setting up the Met in 1829. With the introduction of laws it was hoped that these would enable the police to fight criminals and then eventually for people to abide fuly by these laws. And then the work of the police would have been achieved. The only problem however was new criminals were being made all the time and every time they thought of a different wheeze, it meant a new law was needed to cover that. ‘Every new law means a new criminal.’ What it meant was the police were essentially enlisted to fight hugely shifting and ever developing aspirations by unknowns (or knowns even) with a view to making crime pay. It doesn’t mean anyone has the right to steal, to kill, to oppress, whatever. Far from it. Society should in fact be even greater in cognizance in terms of how these things come about and that should go for the police too.

The main problem with this in my view is that it shows there are opposing forces at work which are more and more determined to be successful and that for me is a critical aspect of the past, a thing that made the past successful in all its shortcomings and all the wars that were fought. Policing is supposed to be like a deterrent much like nuclear weapons are supposed to be a deterrent but the irony is they invite a greater peril. The policing in Sherlock and Dixon of Dock Green and CSI for example is nothing but a fantasy. The fight against crime is clearly a perpetual quest and it is going to get worse because of this apparent and desperate need to identify criminals better and quicker than before. Science fiction and film writers are quite spot on in terms of Blade Runner, Judge Dredd and Robo Cop and the rest of it where ‘the law’ is pretty much judge, jury and executioner.

The rot probably set in during the sixties after several decades of reasonably balanced relations between the police and the public following the suffragettes and the struggle to get women the right to vote and be equals. Of course there were criminals there were murders, the Great Train Robbery, the Kray Twins and so on – there was a somewhat uneasy relationship between the police and the criminals in fact and it sort of helped to keep things down to an extent as long as certain criminals were willing to inform certain coppers about certain plans or certain heists and the rest of it. Dixon of Dock Green was the epitome of the public being the police and the police being the public – and it reflected more or less the actual state in society itself. Jack Warner as Dixon introduced and ended each programme with a monologue, followed by his classic ‘Evening All.’ It was a romantic interpretation of policing – but of course there has always been a problem with things that are on the extremes of society – and of course with the human consciousness and the desire for wrong doing. And that has existed in the police officer’s consciousness too just as it has in the criminal’s mind. Thus in a nutshell – and despite the romanticism of policing – there has been an undercurrent that has existed almost ever since policing began. In the late 20th and the early 21st Centuries we could say that undercurrent has in fact become a storm surge. The man who dreamt of the police in 1829, this being Sir Robert Peel, he was one who probably never once thought his bobbies would one day achieve the very opposite of what he envisaged.

In a nutshell what I mean by that is every time you have ‘movements’ (whether it be an obnoxious dictator, the police, governments that are no sort of government, the Third Reich, the Roman Empire, the Russian Revolution, the BNP, or some backward political system of some sort and so on) what happens is these movements invoke unintended side effects – huge shifts in social change that were not previously thought possible. And sometimes this even entails war. We’ve had two world wars because of instigators who thought they had their brains screwed on the right way round. They didn’t have their brains screwed on the right way round – not one bit. The amazing thing about this is the police have achieved all sorts of social change in the past few decades simply by being the police force and achieving the very reverse of what they set out to do. You see, two hundred years of the police have in fact achieved many instances of huge social change and they accelerate the pace of change in fact. For example the very recent and mere act of an obnoxious officer having his knee on a Black man’s throat, something that lasted just nine minutes, yet the instant fall out from that has involved massive social unrest and a huge desire for societal change.

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Black people being arrested by cops during the Brixton Riots 1981. These led to the Scarman report which found the police’s disproportionate search tactics and institutional racism a factor for the events that ensued.

Thus for example one can see how even ONE police officer achieves unintended consequences. Chauvin (the one who kept his knee on George Floyd) and Couzens (the one alleged to have murdered Sarah Everard – I can only say ‘alleged’ at the present time because it is a charge the act of proving it in the courts has not yet been undertaken.) On one side there’s BLM, on the other there’s Kill the Bill. Movements that are resistant to the ever increasingly militarism and high handiness of policing as well as the increasingly strict rule of the law.

One way in which Britain’s police were extremely successful was keeping the level of crime low and that in part because the British copper didn’t have a gun. Thus for example the atrocities perpetuated by the US police were more prominent than the UK police simply because the former carried guns, and you know, guns have a bad effect on people (as do all forms of militarism.) Things came a little bit later for the Met Police, nevertheless change occurred with several major race related incidents during the seventies that involved the heavy hand of the Met, some quite horrific. Then came the Brixton Riots – forty years ago this year – and in 1985 it was Brixton all over again, plus Broadwater Farm.

An area I think the police has misread is just how informed people are these days and how perceptions can be formed in an instant via tweet or a photograph, that peoples’ opinions can shift enormously en masse in the mere space of seconds. And forming a force intended to keep people at bay wont work because the information exchange and the knowledge is far greater than the police themselves. Its often been said the police are trying to keep up and are actively embracing all sorts of technology in order to keep one step ahead.

I think there is a problem with that thinking however. You see, no-one can predict tomorrow, not even the next hour or so. Not only that no-one can see the past, not even the previous hour or so. We as humans can only see things a few seconds or so behind and a few seconds ahead at best. So we do have a huge problem with understanding reality and the concept of yesterday and tomorrow, even the basic notion of a mere thing such as five minutes ago. One can argue that none of this is planned or thought out its just the way the system keeps flipping the many different possible paths ahead (call it multiverses, parallel universes, branch lines, or continually flipping the coin and whatever) yet we have this massive construct that somehow we know the path ahead – but in reality we don’t know anything more than a few seconds from now. What it means is essentially each and every one of us misreads the room, we have no idea of the sheer uncertainty the world exists in, but the police by way of having certain techniques misread the room far worse because they simply do not understand the nature of chaos. And so they bring forth worse chaos.

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Police confront a woman and arrest her at the Sarah Everard vigil. Source: Twitter

What it means is over the past few years (as I have written before) there have been major changes in how society sees itself and that because the police slipped up badly. Black lives and institutionalised racism for example. The compression of George Floyd’s neck served to inform the world over that the only thing policing cared about was white cops and not the deaths of Black people and that of course sprung huge numbers of protests and counter movements into action, this huge sea change being something usually beyond the wildest dreams of anyone – but because it was the police’s own doing, the change was almost instantaneous. Society flipped the moment the world learned of how George Floyd was murdered.

Huge sprawling movements across the world protesting the actions of the Minneapolis cops and calling for the defunding of the police. Of course it is true the pot had been boiling for a long time and Chauvin’s actions merely blew the lid off and the contents spewed all over the place. Rodney King, Eric Garner, Sarah Brand and others, you name them, they were the other bits of the litmus paper that set it all off. The police should have seen it coming. But then, their business is ‘law enforcement’ and other factors pertaining to the counter effect of that really don’t matter do they? That is because the police can arrest, incarcerate, kettle, send the riot cops in and the rest of it and they think that control is affordable only to them and not to others.

In the UK of course we’ve known about institutionalised racism for years, I was in fact in one of the departments at the former Greater London Council which worked on equality. This was just a few years before Rodney King which opened the world’s eyes to what policing was really about. Inequality. Anyhow our particular section in the GLC’s equality department had a focus on disability awareness – but we too had lots to deal with in terms of the institutionalised aspects of the Met police. This would have been after the Scarman Report whilst Broadwater Farm was the issue at that very time I started at the GLC.

So many things have flowed under the bridge of wrongs since. Many Black victims (many countless names who were victims of the police, Sean Rigg, Cherry Groce to name a few) and white/Latin victims such as Jean de Charles Menezes, and of course just very recently Sarah Everard. Policing in fact is achieving totally negative consequences instead of the benefits they are supposed to bring to society. I do not know how it came to be that one of its officers had somehow abducted a woman and left her for dead, but I do know how it showed up yet another problematic level that existed within the Met. A huge institutional problem of major proportions. And then they said women should not be holding vigils or protesting because there was a pandemic – even though the groups involved had said they would make sure everyone stayed socially distanced and wore masks. Several legal experts had said it was not up to the police to determine whether a vigil was illegal or not, because as they pointed out the emergency regulations didn’t explicitly ban these sort of things. The womens groups of course tried to reason with the Met, but the police were not having it.

There’s been so many times the police have ‘got away with it.’ I know that too well. Despite being a very moralistic and law abiding person (at times I have been accused of being too moralistic) some see me as an easy means of abuse and exploitation (that being something along the lines of ‘aha we can use our communication ability to make up shit and the police will believe us no end’) and they used the Met for that very contrivance. Of course the Met, being the stupid lot they are believed which side? That which spoke. My advocates had warned the Met, ‘you do seem to be deciding that people who speak are those who should be treated as if they haven’t broken the law whilst those do not speak and need specialist help are the ones that have broken the law. And that is not right.’ When we instigated enquiries and investigations the police would invariably come up with ‘we have found no wrong doing’ blah blah. It was so depressing. The Met were essentially doing the work of criminals and getting away with it. Absolutely horrific.

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The news that a police officer was responsible for this atrocious deed shocked a lot of people. Source: Twitter

That changed my perception of policing (and of society itself) overnight. If it was me doing this sort of shit to abled people who could speak the shit would soon hit the fan and the police would be right upon my shoulders. That fact it all was enacted on a huge pretence (because my neighbours didn’t like disabled people didn’t like me, you know, they wanted for example neighbours they could be chatty with, they were people who lived massively in the past and would rather see oppression of others simply to satisfy their own backwards innates of perversion) and the Met went along with it lock stock and barrel. Well that was confirmed by how they treated the victims of Carl Beech. A guy who made up grotesque fantasies about top notch politicians and the likes. I don’t like or care much for these politicians or their way of thinking or what politics should be about – but there was no call to treat them like the criminals they were made out to be thanks to the Met. Even if there is someone ‘I don’t like’ (for want of a better word perhaps its that these people are abrasive with me) I have never had a desire to see them brought to their knees or to be challenged in ways they would never dream of. Call me weak if you like but the simple fact for that is others have always had a communication advantage and I haven’t, so I do not wish to be embroiled in the huge misconceptions and massive disadvantages of that very retrograde system that the Met Police and many others so lovingly embrace.

Back to the subject in question and the police in general themselves, of course in terms of recent events (which is why I am writing this) the police misread the room, they thought because there was a pandemic and there was a requirement for people to stay socially distanced, well people should not be outdoors en masse should they? Not even if they socially distanced and everyone wore masks. The big question here however was, did the police protect women especially when there had been a long history of the Met letting women victims down (the John Worboys case for example, the police essentially permitted Worboys the freedom to rape as many women as he liked.) This is what some legal experts believe happened when the Met in fact, in a very unwitting way, decriminalised rape, in terms of Worboys and the result was more than a hundred and twenty more women became new victims of Worboys. The number is possibly far greater but no-one knows actually what the fall out from the Met’s actions achieved, thus the extent of damage which occurred would in fact never be known.

And of course there was Sarah Everard. The fact a Met officer had, to all purposes and intents as the papers have reported, abducted her under the pretence of some COVID restriction and then killed her and disposed of her body. Not only that the same officer had been caught indecently exposing himself in a fast food restaurant just a few days before and the police had apparently done nothing about that. Clearly women didn’t feel safe with the Met having such predators in its midst, and so a vigil was planned – and there would be respect for the law and for social distancing. The Met then challenged this so the organisers went to court and the court basically found the organisers could hold their vigil but the Met issued a statement to the contrary. Negotiations went on between the two with the police insistent the action couldn’t go ahead. But as one legal expert pointed out the Met were not experts on health issues so they could not reasonably be expected to pass proper judgement on such matters and since the women had offered to steward the event to such an extent that it would be fully compliant at all times – something that just didn’t ring with the Met. Further as many legal experts have now pointed out, demonstrations, vigils, etc are not exactly illegal during a lockdown because the legislation is in fact a very grey area.

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Not a very good look for the Met Police in the days immediately following the Clapham vigil in terms of women – note too the item on rape detection rates. Source: Twitter

The Clapham vigil was officially dropped – but the whole thing went ahead anyway when individuals and smaller campaign groups said they would hold the vigil in order to honour the victim in question, this being Sarah Everard. In the hours before the vigil began hundreds of women (even men) came to Clapham Common to pay their respects and lay flowers, notes, memorials etc and most surprisingly the Duchess of Sussex too paid a brief visit to honour the memory of Sarah Everard. Even though that was a very brief visit, it showed the extent of public feeling on the matter and the Met should have read into that deeply. They did not.

During the aftermath of that now fractious event one woman experienced a guy exposing himself and they went to the Met who were at the edges of the park, the Met were not interested – apparently one officer said something along the lines of ‘we’ve had enough of these women rioters for one night…’ That was appalling.

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The Sarah Everard vigil at Clapham Common – just before police moved in to break up the gathering. Source: Twitter

What happened next however changed many peoples’ opions of the police and that simply because the force misread the room. I wont go into detail on what happened but it is clear the fall out was that everybody of every single conceivable political belief, denomination, and so on condemned the actions of the police because it reinforced the notion that having already made countless women feel less safe because the perpetrator had been male, again it was male officers who grabbed and jostled women and those actions were not acceptable. As I said, everyone of every conceivable denomination were aghast at the events. What it means is in just the short space of a few days the police have once again turned things on their head with many questioning whether the police were for good or not and even MPs and Government ministers were too questioning whether the intent of the Met had in fact been honourable or not.

If anyone thought it was just one rogue officer who had committed such a deed (being that horrific murder just mentioned) it wasn’t. It was never a one off. I wrote a series of posts on an old blog of mine a number of years ago highlighting crimes by the Met Police and quite a few of those included violence against women, and even their own wives. Quite a few cases of racism were highlighted too. So far I have restored two of those posts to Hyde Park Now. Let me tell you I had never bothered writing this sort of stuff until the Met had treated me like shit, so you see, they were the cause and effect for that. Anyway as history has shown there have been a lot of rogue officers and the fact these even continue to this day tells me there’s a lot wrong with the Met police. (Not forgetting other police forces too.)

You would think by now the police would be critically attuned to the sense of things and the anger people very palpably had. Far from it. In fact just after the aforementioned events it was found yet another Met officer had sent to social media images from a site linked to the Sarah Everard investigation and a lot of people were by now saying things along the lines of ‘just what the fuck is wrong with this police force?’

No wonder people want the police defunded. Who brought that very social movement for change about? It was the police themselves!

The police are a wound upon society that urgently needs a cure. Applying plaster over a continually festering wound doesn’t work.


Other police issues on Hyde Park Now:

Met Police attack Holloway boys

Met Police: More failures with John Worboys

That unreliable Met Police

The Met’s Operation Midland

The Met police: 190 years on….

Cops assault Black disabled man in London’s Old Kent Road

An obnoxious police officer – and the fall out

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