Tories oppose accountable policing
today announced that they would be opposing the introduction of measures
to help make the police more accountable to the communities they are
supposed to protect.
The measure is recommended by the report that came out of the Stephen
Lawrence enquiry in order to curb what some have seen as racist
behaviour by the police.
The report proposed that the police make a official record of every
stop, or stop and search that they make, including who they stopped, why
they stopped them and the outcome of that stop.
The Tories have claimed that this will involve seven minutes of
police time for every record taken. A Tory spokesman said - that may not
seem a lot but if the officer makes ten stops that's an hour of police
work, the Lib Dems then piped up to say that the Tories were right to
try to cut back on 'bureaucracy', although they didn't like the Tories
Two things; first - even the most vigorous police office will not be
stopping ten people in a shift except on very special occasions (an arms
fair perhaps?) but more importantly why does it take seven minutes to
get out a form and fill in
- who I stopped
- when I stopped them
- where I stopped them
- why I stopped them
- the outcome of this
Particularly as the outcome is almost always none its hardly going to
chain the police to their desks all day is it?
Many people have pointed out down the years that whilst individual
police officers may be untainted by racism, prejudice or bad intentions
as an institution the police target the communities of those in ethnic
minorities - and the stop and search powers in practice have meant that
if you are black or Asian you are far more likely to be stopped and
searched, and there is far less likely to be any outcome of that search.
Whilst this measure is small in itself, if the Tories oppose even
this modest proposal to simply ask the police why they are stopping
people, where will their populism end?
Embarrassingly their initiative is titled "Restoring respect -
cutting crime" and Tory leader Howard made a speech today in which he
warned of 'hooded youths' and powerless police. He went on to warn of
Westside story hoodlums stating that