Take it from a copper – two-tier policing is real

My senior colleagues are more interested in appealing to the chattering classes than in tackling crime.

Paul Chapel

Topics Politics UK

Yet another senior police officer has decided to prostrate himself at the feet of identity politics. This time it’s Gavin Stephens, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), which oversees the national collaboration between British police chiefs.

Earlier this month, Stephens stated in a Guardian interview that racial discrimination operates within the police at an ‘institutional level’. With this, he was endorsing the dominant view in policing today – fashioned by the findings of the 1999 Macpherson report and reaffirmed by the Casey review last year – that police forces across Britain are ‘institutionally racist’. Interventions like this have become sadly routine. And they are only making life more difficult for serving officers like myself.

Stephens is careful to say that he does not think all police officers are racist. Instead, he argues that, ‘the way our policies, procedures [and] training have been designed and implemented for many years have not had the voices of black people involved in the design, the implementation, of those practices’. This, he adds, has led to ‘disproportionate outcomes’ for black people.

This is vague, jargon-heavy stuff that sparks more questions than answers. What does Stephens mean when he says that police initiatives have been carried out without the involvement of black voices? Perhaps he should look at his organisation’s own website. There he can learn about the NPCC’s efforts to create an ‘anti-racist police service’, with the input of groups like the National Black Police Association, no less.

In any case, the suggestion that ‘black voices’ must always be consulted on policing matters should at least raise a few eyebrows. This isn’t just patronising, it’s also deeply prejudiced. After all, it assumes that all black people have the same experiences. That they all speak with one voice.

It doesn’t help that Stephens also fails to define what ‘black’ actually means. Does it apply to people of Caribbean heritage only? Or does it also refer to Sub-Saharan Africans? And where do mixed-race people, or Brits of South Asian or Middle Eastern heritage, figure in all of this? These communities, and the individuals within them, have wildly different experiences when it comes to the police: positive, negative and everything in between.

The police certainly do have a race problem – but today it’s that our higher-ups are obsessed with talking about race. Indeed, the obsession with creating a force that ‘reflects the community it serves’ has led to strange and tokenistic outcomes. The police are forever shouting from the rooftops about the proportion of successfully enrolled so-called BAME recruits, even in areas with a largely white population. They crow about these ever rising numbers like Soviet Union production figures.

Most of us might think the ethnicity of an officer is far less important than his or her ability to investigate crimes and engage with people in a professional, sensitive manner. But not our race-obsessed police chiefs.

As we have seen in other fields, prioritising race in hiring processes can come at the cost of standards. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that some inept or possibly nefarious individuals, who would otherwise be nowhere near a police uniform, could get through as a result. But no one in the upper ranks of policing seems remotely concerned about this.

Ultimately, Stephens’ comments will only make life more difficult for officers as we go about our duties. These duties should be the same today as they were when Sir Robert Peel came up with the principles of policing in the 1800s. These boil down to preventing crime, winning the support of the local community and enforcing the law impartially. At a time when public confidence in the police’s ability to prevent crime and disorder has fallen to its lowest-ever recorded level, police chiefs would be wise to rediscover the Peelian principles.

Sadly, right now, their embrace of identity politics has led to a form of two-tier policing. So we see those expressing anti-Semitic hate on pro-Palestine marches get a ticking off at worst, while gender-critical feminists risk a knock on the door and a possible charge for stating biological realities. We see officers who rarely turn up to the scene of a burglary continue to make fools of themselves at Pride marches.

From within the ranks of the police, it is obvious that we have completely lost our way. Senior officers care more about appealing to the chattering classes, who will always look down on them anyway, rather than doing their job on behalf of the public.

For change to happen – and it must – police chiefs need to get their priorities straight. They need to get back to protecting people and preventing crime, rather than pandering to the identitarians.

Paul Chapel is the pen name of a serving British police officer.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK


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