The latest issue of Socialist Worker
contains a typical left wing polemic against Britain's police; it begins:
1,429 deaths in custody, 0 cops convicted
46,000 stopped and searched a year
The deaths alluded to above occurred over a 21 year period, but what do these figures mean, that the police beat nearly fifteen hundred people to death? Hardly. A death in police custody can mean almost anything, and unless one knows both the circumstances and the context, these figures are meaningless. One much publicised death in police custody was that of Raoul Moat
. It may be that his treatment at the hands of the police was partially responsible for his short but deadly rampage, but no reasonable person could claim or insinuate that he was murdered or otherwise unlawfully killed.
Another death in police custody was that of 1980s reggae artist Smiley Culture
. He was under arrest at his home when he committed suicide with a kitchen knife. How were the police to blame for that? Should they handcuff everyone they arrest, including during the course of a house search? And what would they have been accused of if they had indeed handcuffed a black man under such circumstances?
The second statistic is just as vacuous. Here is an official government document
relating to stop and search. Make of it what you will.
The Stephen Lawrence murder investigation is alluded to as botched; no, it wasn't. If you are not familiar with this 1993 murder, click here
and follow the links.
Then of course we have yet more vacuous statistical racism
“Black people are 30 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales.”
No, they are not. Stop and search is directed primarily against street crime. Which of the following groups perpetrates the majority of street crimes?
Elderly white men
Elderly black men
Elderly white women
Elderly black women
Pre-school girls in rural Cumbria
Young white men in urban areas
Young black men in urban areas
When was the last time you heard of a 90 year old black woman being stopped and searched?
Anyone who thinks there is no need for stop and search has clearly not heard of G Block or the KG Tribe
Of course, not all the SWP's criticisms of the police, especially the Metropolitan Police, are without merit. They have been shown at times to use racially offensive (not racist
) language to blacks and others. They should not do this because, as they often forget, they are the servants of the public, and people who serve the public should treat all of us with common decency. Of more concern are the revelations about the police and the media, especially the press, at the ongoing Leveson Inquiry
The article concludes: “The main role of the police is to protect the property, power and privilege of those at the top of society from those at the bottom.”
It may well be that the comrades believe this, but any police officer who does, should do us all a favour, and find another job.