I shall probably be called Racist by people who don’t really get it, but, hey, I don’t care. Some things are more important than that. I shall stick my head, with my tin foil helmet, above the parapet and proffer my opinions.
During my working life I have worked the streets of Brent and Southall, both areas with a very high percentage of immigrants. I tried to avoid South London, even Cab Drivers don’t want to go there, but occasionally I was sent to Brixton to give them a hand with some disorder. I do know a bitabout violence and racial tensions.
The Home Office, and the Police Service have to grasp the nettle (I’d better not say bite the bullet) and do a bit of serious racial profiling (waits for shocked gasps and glasses of Prosecco being dropped). No, I absolutely mean it.
There are people out there, and you all know the sort of person I mean, who delight in calling the Police “Racist”. We were branded “Institutionally Racist” and it has stuck, folk love to kick the Police Service with it.
If politicians and Senior Police Officers are serious about dealing effectively with the current, seemingly out of control, gang violence in London and elsewhere they need to acknowledge two blindingly obvious factors.
1. There is far more, and worse, Racism between different shades of black and brown than there ever was between simply White and Black/Brown. To pigeon-hole people as White, Asian, Black etc does nobody any favours. Even British Asian, British Black and all the other variations we see are not sufficient. We really do need to mine deeper. Which African country do they originate from? Are they Sikh or Muslim? What sort of Muslim are they?
When I worked at Southall there were horrendous, and violent, problems between the Sikhs from Southall and the Muslims from Slough, but the suspects and offenders were all recorded as simply “Asian”.
The arrival of youths from Somalia complicated the issue further. To get to grips with issues such as these we need to look much deeper than skin colour. What is their religion, which country, or African State do they originate from? How are they treated by the authorities in their country of origin?
Despite the allegations that the Police are Racist or use undue/excessive force towards these groups of people, many of them actually view the British Police as ‘soft’. I was once told by a male prisoner of Somalian origin that he had no fear of the British Police whatsoever as we would not treat him anywhere near as badly as he would be treated back home in Somalia. We couldn’t even come close to the levels of threats and violence he would experience at the hands of the authorities back home. How do you even begin to understand that by describing him as Black African?
Youths from the Caribbean Islands experience similar levels of violence at the hands of the Police back home. Here they complain about being stopped and searched whereas at home they are likely to receive a blow from a rifle butt at the side of the head for not wanting to account for their movements.
I will no doubt receive some criticism for that comparison but that is exactly what I was told by a former Sergeant of Police from Barbados. It may or may not be the current experience but it certainly was according to him.
2. There is nothing for the current younger generations to do to occupy their time. The Tory Cuts mean that we no longer have Youth Clubs, the Police no longer have Juvenile Bureaux or Schools Involvement officers. The Police used to be invited in to schools to talk to the children, of assorted ages and ethnic origins, about the assorted dangers out there in the real world. It used to be Strangers, Railways, Risk of Drowning etc etc, with a library of suitable films to show to reinforce the messages. In today’s world it would be Knife Crime, the Gang Culture, Moped Enabled Crime etc, with some suitably hard-hitting DVDs and victims, or families of victims, to give first hand accounts of where this Gang Culture leads to. Intervention and Education at an early stage.
Only this doesn’t happen. Youth Clubs seem to have been consigned to history. Local Councils have also suffered some brutal cuts at the hands of this government and the previous coalition, and now all departments are literally fighting for their share of the meagre resources there are precious little left for averting Gang Crime. Police no longer have sufficient resources to dedicated any number of officers to go and give a presentation to a group of schoolkids.
I shall stop now before I get called worse things than normal. If some of our Community Leaders wish to regard me as Racist that is their prerogative. I don’t think I am. I think I am a realist, pointing out what Government and NPCC need to consider instead of blaming others.
Government and NPCC really need to start listening to the people who have actual experience of this problem, whether they be retired or serving Police Officers, Community Leaders or the families of Knife Crime victims. They might not always speak the same language but there is a genuine desire out there to resolve this problem for once and for all, but other people need to stop, take notice and take the appropriate action.
Do the youths of Great Britain REALLY want to go round killing and maiming each other? They may do at the moment, but they have no viable education or advice. They do not see their options. They make bad choices. That can be altered over time, but not if we carry on the way we’re going.