Back in the early 90s if you had asked me what I thought of the police I would have told they were an instrument of oppression of an uncaring, authoritarian, right wing government.
Well I have grown up a a bit since then and maybe The Met has changed too. Sure all the collusion between The Force and News International is a blot on their copybook, but for the most part I sense that the relationship between the bobby on the beat and the people they protect has changed considerably. It has been a long and slow process and along the way terrible mistakes have been made. But I hope that most people today think of the police as good people with a tricky job to do, rather than pawns used by the government to keep us all, and especially minorities, in check.
Ok, so much of this stems from personal experience. A couple of decades ago the police in my part of town, N16, were seen by some locals as lazy, corrupt and racist. Very few people think those things now. Most of my dealing with the police have been hugely positive. I have nothing but praise for our community police team.
I do think that many people’s suspicion of the police used to be fuelled by car ownership – getting nicked for speeding etc. However as car ownership in the capital has declined I wonder if this has made Londoners less wary of the police.
Ok, so it might be a different story in Tottenham and the Mark Duggan incident is obviously a complex and tragic story, but one terrible mistake shouldn’t tar a whole group of individuals.
So if one small good thing has come out the riots it is that communities have once again seen the police as a force for protecting them. Sure, on the early nights of the riot, with numbers stretched to the limit, the police struggled. But also I think people recognise that many officers went way beyond the call of duty, often putting themselves in very difficult situations.
So I love the idea of this buy a bobby a beer Facebook group. Well until I get nicked for riding my bike on the pavement that is.
Finally though it is worth retweeting fellow N16 resident Yvette Cooper’s tweet from this morning.
16k police delivered welcome calm in London. Police numbers make a difference. Now is not the time to cut 16k officers, Govt must rethink
Let’s hope they do
The Facebook group is here https://www.facebook.com/buyabobbyabeer