Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The end of policing by consent in Britain

"Policing by consent" is the foundation of UK (and by descent, New Zealand) policing. it is at the core of the Peelian Principles. But as David Gilbertson note sin the Guardian, it has been eroded, to the extent that Britain's police are at war with the people:

Confrontational – yet frightened and defensive – officers are nowadays trained to see the public as a threat to their very existence. Preventive patrolling has been abandoned – notwithstanding the soothing and wholly false spin of the Met, which continually we still have "bobbies on the beat". Few such officers have been deployed for at least 10 years, and their barely visible replacement – comprised largely of police community support officers, are but a pale imitation of what people expect and deserve.

From Stephen Lawrence to Mark Duggan; from the kettling of peaceful protesters, to the riots of last year; from the manifest incompetence of the first phone-hacking inquiry to allegations of corruption at the Leveson inquiry – a path has been beaten towards the edge of a precipice, and it is time for those concerned about the vital role of policing to challenge what is happening.

This matters. As Peel noted, "the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions". When consent is denied, the police are less able to do their jobs. And in the UK, thanks to repeated police abuses, that consent is increasingly absent. As Gilbertson notes,
What incentive will there be for any black British mother on a sink estate to search out her local police to express concern about her son or his friends? Who can be surprised at any hard-working black member of our society taking the view that an organisation that allegedly views him or her as a "n****r" isn't worth their trust?
But its not just the UK. The New Zealand police are walking the same path, albeit slower. We need to stop them before it is too late. Otherwise, we're going to end up in the same place as the UK, where a police force has slowly been allowed to morph into an army of occupation on our streets.