Paxman writes that In the 1970s Met Police commissioner, Robert Mark, said the police service had become ‘the anvil on which society beats out the problems and abrasions of social inequality, racial prejudice, weak laws, and ineffective legislation’. He notes that this was at a time before a lot of changes to behaviour and culture and recent cuts to numbers that would only exacerbate the situation.
This was just one of the more poetic quotes I favoured from what I believe to be a balanced and reasonable piece on the current state and the future of policing in the U.K. But I’m biased.
When commenting on the fact that our forces have seemingly been the working man protecting the middle class man in years gone by (one of Peel’s principles was that an officer would be someone “Who had not the rank, habits or station of a gentlemen”) Paxman also recognises the shifting demographic of officers.
This development concerns me in more ways than one but most pertinently as it only serves to widen the already vast polarisation between the people engaging with police (or whom the police engage with) on a daily basis and the officers themselves.
It could be that the offenders went to school and college with the officers and then went to the same pubs, clubs and dirty fast food joints on the way home. (Or at least the equivalent in a different town, as I’m sure is the case for me). They could speak the same language or have a similar history.
Instead, the narrowing of the demographic of officers, (although potentially employing more skill, which must be the intention?) will only further the us and them mentality, as any integration before coming into contact with some specific groups of people will be minimal or fractious.
The imbalance of an inhuman vision of a militarised and more educated force next to an excluded, young, fighting, hand to mouth, young person who lives their life in the open will not help the situation.
We need more boots on the ground and they need to be a lot of different sizes and have walked different paths to get here. Equality and representation.
This is an old reference about police being there for people who have nothing else but it is very close to how I see the job. Crossing the street to get closer to things most would cross the street to avoid.
There are a few different groups of people that end up having to have contact with the police and if youre rarely visited by them I think that’s a fortunate place to be. A lot of the time the people that might need them the most won’t want police involved but from what I can see we try to be there and we try to listen to the people that no one else has ever listened to. If they bite our ears off then shame on them but it won’t happen a second time. Human beings.
It felt reassuring to know that despite the majority not getting it, there are some who understand that there are rights that officers are trying to protect for all but at times it feels and seems as though we are protecting the people some of us most wholeheartedly disagree with and at the expense of a wider vision of what the police are there for.
My Police are there to defend the peaceful life of everyone they meet, though at times the route there is not a peaceful one.
There is a peaceful life available for everyone if they choose it and are not unfortunate enough to fall victim to those who have chosen otherwise but in spite of our best efforts there are damaging things which have gone before, the consequences of which are very hard to overcome.