Sputnik has discussed the issue with Peter Williams, Policing & Terrorism Expert at Liverpool John Moores University.
Sputnik: The Metropolitan police’s use of force has risen sharply in the last year, with black people far more likely to be subjected to such tactics than anyone else. How significant is this?
It appears to me, to be a new policy where the most minor or innocuous uses of restraint, say a passive handcuffing would be recorded and reflected into these figures and that’s previously not been the case.
It goes someway into explaining why more ethnic minority groups are reflected than what the official figures seems to indicate.
Sputnik: Is the Met a racist institution?
The Metropolitan police have had two wake up calls over the last thirty years. The first was the Scarman Report, which was published in 1981 at the end of the inner-city riots; that highlighted key issues with ethnic minority groups which the police needed to address. No problem at all with that and everybody accepts that including them.
More importantly there have been the lessons from the Macpherson Report in the sad case in the murder of Stephen Lawrence; now the Macpherson had ramifications across the police force and the police, in relation to how it responds to and deals with ethnic minority communities, ethnic minority staff etc. etc. and a lot of those lessons have been taken onboard and applied.
There has been a lot of hard work in the last 30 years, on all sides, to get us to this situation that we are in today. To conclude a long answer, I feel that description nowadays is completely and utterly unjustified.
Sputnik: What are the causes of this shocking rise in force?
There are several issues there, one if that I’ve used the term ‘protective’, because equipment has changed massively over the years. Also, within the police environment over the last 12 to 18 months, which has cumulated in recent legislation in relation to violence towards emergency workers, there has been considerable debate regarding attacks on officers.
Whilst I think the overriding justification of this policy was to highlight and being more accountable to when protective equipment was being deployed. It also serves the purpose to the number of violent incidences that police officers have been subjected to. There’s a lot in this story that we can’t just draw out a ball set of figures.
I would say what the service is trying to do is be more accountable to the public in use protective equipment.
Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Peter Williams and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.