Racism against Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Communities in the Police Force During Coronavirus Lockdown
discrimination, by an individual, community, or institution against a person or
people based on their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group. It is
based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.
Racism causes some races to face maltreatment, discrimination and
disadvantages, they are less likely to be selected on jobs or to be treated
with respect which leads to a lower standard of living.
History is important in understanding racism. Since the 1980’s it has been an issue in the UK Police Forces and until at the current time, it is still prevalent. It has been shown that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) Londoners are more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by the police. During the coronavirus lockdown alone, young black men were stopped and searched by police more than 20,000 times in London and 80% of which resulted in no further action. It also has been reported that 54% of Black people are more likely to receive fines for violating social distancing rules than white people. Even some key workers of black and ethnic minority such as ambulance drivers and teachers are being stopped to justify why they are outside.
How the disproportionate use of police powers against BAME communities looks like during the coronavirus lockdown helps us discern that “institutional racism” is still prevailing and even been worst during this pandemic. Two decades ago, the UK police were found to be institutionally racist in the Stephen Lawrence case – the Black teenager who was stabbed to death by a gang in southeast London in a racist attack. Then, the 350-page report on the case called Macpherson report designed to show “zero tolerance” for racism in society gave 70 proposals to take on our ‘institutionally racist’ police. However, even after a decade after its publishing, there was no change felt.
This article was prepared by the Association Against Abuse of Police Powers and Privileges (AAAPPP), a UK not-for-profit organisation specializing in assisting victims of abuse of power and corruption in the UK Police.
AAAPPP Ltd. is Association Against Abuse of Police Powers and Privileges.
Openness benefits the justice just like dark and silence benefit the corruption. At the heart of policing is the term of accountability which is nothing but ability to justify operational decisions of decision makers in public. As AAAPPP is targeting corruption and bad faith in decision making processes of police forces, the most efficient way to achieve that purpose is to engage the power of the word: much future wrongdoing can be avoided by the highlighting the previous cases and their outcomes, as when there is wide understanding that the wrong does not pay back, the wrong will find lesser and lesser ‘habitat’ to exist in police forces. The primary ‘habitat’ of the wrongdoing / misconduct is the minds of the police officers, whose ‘army’ in the UK consists of 130,000 people with their own personal situations, emotional state and depth of understanding of ethics. Addressing these minds is much more efficient than actual fighting of the existent wrongdoing itself, which, of course, remains a bright purpose by itself as well.
At the same time, working with the power of the word is dealing with a big power, which must be done in a wise manner and with proper diligence. Gradualness and conservatism in applying the power of publicity is the fundamental principle of AAAPPP in dealing with the principle of openness. Three main stages will be recognized as part of that approach by AAAPPP, which are:
i) The desire to resolve every issue n a proper way without publicity and in accordance with proper guidelines, the Code of Ethics and National Decisions Model.
ii) An anonymized publication of the results of any successfully solved case; OR
iii) A non-anonymized publication of any unresolved case in which a police force had refused to act in accordance with the Code of Ethics and caused AAAPPP to unfold the whole arsenal of its instruments in pursuing the justice.
The third stage is ‘the last resort’ which will be activated only when all the rest options are exhausted.
Make the system work
AAAPPP recognizes that the UK’s legislation has a very well thought system of safeguards, which is being continuously developed. The main risk of any developed system of safeguards is failures, incompetence and bad faith of decision makers exercising powers when implementing those safeguards. AAAPPP is not a political organization, but it will focus on enforcement of the legislation’s safeguards being a powerful instrument of members of civil society of the UK. Only maintenance of a high watermark on the side of decision makers can allow legislation to work in full power and to its deepest purposes. On the other hand, lack of existence of the high standards of integrity of decision makers will always undermine any efforts of the public in enforcing the public interest and justice. That is the case where the strength of a team is equal to the strength of the weakest player of it.
One of the challenges which the UK system of justice has is that those operational decision makers in police forces who are entitled to ‘rule the game’ today, due to the accumulated years of work, started their careers when the perception of standards was much different - 20 or even 30 years ago. Pursuing and reminding the modern way of perception of those standards for those ‘stuck in the past’ is one of the goals of AAAPPP.
Justice for all
One of the main manifestation of bad faith in the work of police forces is considered by AAAPPP to be existence of double standards where members of police forces are served with double-faced approach aimed to bent the practice from what is being stated by the forces publicly. It is one thing to announce publicly that the forces are not tolerable to corruption, it is another thing to pursue that principle with proper diligence in practice.
AAAPPP is not a ‘punishment organization’ targeting to troll or hurt police forces as much as possible, but it will always defend the rights of those affected by injustice and fight for appropriate financial compensations for those who are served unfairly and with abuse of power of the state.
Powerful and coordinated response
Police forces are well established, financed and coordinated internally. Those affected by abuse of power are, in most cases, left one to one when opposing powerful malice and corruption, having neither knowledge of their rights nor resources and, often, readiness to stand for their rights. This situation gives birth to perception of certain level of impunity for those police officers who know how the system works and, even worse – may have ‘the right connections’ and ‘certain respect from the right people’.
Such state of things is a lucrative precursor for abuse of power to happen: understanding and belief into impunity gives birth to the wrongdoing which otherwise could be avoided. The corruption starts in the minds of police officers when they feel lack of accountability and the risks of wrongful conduct. Once started, it will always develop into a vicious cycle of new and opposing the public interest.
AAAPPP will pursue justice through the principle of openness and with gradualness but without a desire to cause pressure on police forces just for the sake of it