Author: Charles Murray
With commentaries by David Conway (editor), Rob Allen, John Cottingham, Christie Davies, J C Lester, Tom Sorell, and Vivien Stern
Publishers: Institute for the Study of Civil Society
Publication Date: 2005
Why Punishment Is No Crime
criminal justice system has gone soft, according to leading American sociologist Charles Murray, whose new book Simple Justice is published today by independent think-tank Civitas. Murray claims the criminal justice system no longer dispenses justice, or even seeks to.
For Murray, the essential element of any criminal justice system is retribution:
The primal function of a system of justice is to depersonalise revenge … the individual will take his complaint to the community. In return the community will exact the appropriate retribution - partly on behalf of the wronged individual, but also to express the community's moral values (p.18-19).
There are two component parts of retributive justice:
'That's it. Nothing about rehabilitation, remorse, or socio-economic disadvantage. Nothing about the bad effects the punishment might have on the offender or, for that matter, its good effects. The purpose of the sentence is punishment. When the system has failed to punish culpable offenders, it has failed, full stop. It is unjust' (pp.20-21).
The elite responsible for the workings of the British criminal justice system today no longer make retributive justice a priority. Instead, argues Murray, they have become more preoccupied with containing the costs of dealing with criminals, by encouraging or requiring judges to impose cheaper alternative sentences to imprisonment, such as community service. They also seek to contain costs by encouraging or demanding the ever earlier release of prisoners serving prison sentences.
How the Scales of Justice Have Been Tilted in Favour of Criminals
Murray criticises the ever greater readiness of the authorities in recent times to prosecute and imprison all who resort to using force, beyond the barest minimum needed in their immediate self-defence, against those who assault or seek to rob them, or are just a persistent nuisance. He also points out that that convictions have been made harder to secure than they would otherwise be through courts refusing to allow as admissible evidence, previous convictions for and accusations of similar offences.
Citizens and Outlaws
All in all, argues Murray, all too many respectable law-abiding citizens in Britain today have of late been forced to live in fear through being given inadequate protection from a comparatively small number of habitual offenders, whom Murray calls "Outlaws". These have been allowed to roam free and to get away, if not exactly with murder or scot-free, then at least without having to suffer their just deserts. Murray argues that these two groups should not be treated as equal before the law, and that outlaws - certainly in the commission of the outlawry - have forfeited their claim to have their rights respected:
'The everyday world contains millions of decent, law-abiding people … different in kind from the much smaller number of people whom I label Outlaws.… Perhaps, Citizens pad their expense accounts, but they never come close to killing, wounding, robbing, burgling, or raping -the elemental predatory acts…. The person who does kill, wound, rob, burgle, or rape has stepped over a line and become an Outlaw. While he is in a state of Outlawry, he has lost many rights that Citizens enjoy.' (22)
Home Office Accused of Suppressing Embarrassing Research
As well as Murray's essay, Simple Justice contains a set of comments from a range of distinguished scholars and experts in penal policy, writing from a range of different perspectives. Murray's essay receives most sympathy from the comment by Christie Davies, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Reading. Davies goes so far as to suggest Murray's category of "Outlaw" be formally incorporated into law through those whose criminal records would place them in it enjoying fewer civil rights and legal protections than law-abiding Citizens, even upon completing their sentences.
Professor Davies also agrees Britain's criminal justice elite has gone soft. He reserves especial opprobrium for the Home Office whom he accuses of routinely suppressing politically sensitive or embarrassing data. One example of Home Office research he claims has been deliberately suppressed is the disproportionately large number of racial attacks on Asian shopkeepers carried out by those of West Indian extraction (pp.52-3).
Society Should Excuse Retaliation by Citizens Without Condoning It
Other commentators have less sympathy with Murray than Davies. Tom Sorell, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, agrees that habitual offenders should be made to serve their full prison terms, no matter the financial costs, and also that, upon completing them, persistent offenders merit closer surveillance than citizens.
Sorell disagrees that victims of assault and burglary, and their attempt, should be able in law to use more force than the barest minimum in their self-defence. He admits courts might want to excuse those who retaliate with such force against assailants, but argues that, for victims to be allowed to use more than the barest minimum necessary in self-defence, would undermine the impartiality and impersonality with which justice must always be administered to ensure all receive their just deserts.
The Need to Protect the Innocent from Wrongful Conviction
John Cottingham, Professor of Philosophy at Reading University, accepts Murray's call for retributive justice to be the central aim of the criminal justice system. But he argues some measures Murray proposes to make it easier to secure convictions would subvert retributive justice by making it too easy to for the innocent to be wrongfully convicted for crimes they have not committed. It is to prevent such miscarriages of justice, he argues, criminal suspects enjoy legal protections Murray would remove.
Alternatives to Prison
The progressive alternatives to prison, against which Murray inveighs, receive vigorous defence in the comments by Baroness Vivien Stern, former director of NACRO, and by Rob Allen, former director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, an initiative to increase public support for them. Stern and Allen claim non-custodial sentences are more appropriate than imprisonment in cases where offences have arisen as a result of those who have committed them suffering from psychological disorders they have acquired as a result of being childhood abuse or drug addiction. Such offenders need help, not punishment, they claim.
Even when offenders are fully responsible for their criminal actions, claim Stern and Allen, non-custodial can often be more appropriate than prison, since they provide offenders better opportunity to make reparation to their victims.
Policing in Four Nations, Cultures and Crimes
Authors: Norman Dennis and George Erdos
Publishers: Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society
Price £14.50 RRP UK
Publication Date: January 2005
The media release, in its opening paragraph accompanying this volume, states that Britain has one of the highest crime rates in the developed world and one of the most ineffective police forces. This immediately put this reviewer on notice that the pages need to be examined with more than usual caution.
This is an interesting and somewhat unusual book, in that it seeks to compare the way in which France, Germany, the United States and Great Britain coped with the changing face of crime that occurred around the middle of the twentieth century. Such comparisons are usually made between this country and the United States and it is rare to draw in a couple of European countries and in this regard the book does a valuable service by providing an insight into how our near neighbours and European partners have come to terms with the problems that we have experienced.
It might be said that this book is a comparison of two pairs of legal systems or the adversarial versus the inquisitorial.
What is not in doubt is the left wing bias the book brings to the subject. Both authors appear to have come under the influence of Richard Henry Tawney, a committed socialist, and the names of Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx appear from time to time in the pages.
Whenever comparisons are being made it becomes essential to examine whether like is being compared with like. Are the criminal offences the same? Is the age of criminal responsibility the same? Are children and young persons included or excluded in any figures? What responsibilities do the police have and on what basis are establishments founded? The list is endless. Legislative changes have to be considered. References are made to burglary rates in 1964 when, at that time, such an offence could only be committed in this country during the night, a period statutorily defined in the Larceny Act 1916 and what exactly is a 'mugging' in the minds of the authors?
This is an excellent book on the social history of England and Wales, particularly of the latter half of the nineteenth century, when, of course there were no motor vehicles, few people owned their own houses, generations lived under the same roof and many lived in abject poverty. Any comparisons with the modem way of life, with its general wealth and universal house ownership, are exceedingly difficult. Religion, education, the family and housing, all important issues in the culture of this nation and the impact their changing circumstances have had since the end of the Second World War a pivotal point, given that this book seeks to compare crime and policing methods in Britain with France, Germany and the United States, are dealt with all too briefly in Chapter three, headed 'Conscience and Community Controls in England from the Nineteen - Sixties'. Any such comparison takes little or no account of the fact that France played only a small part in the 1939 - 45 conflict, that Germany was defeated after six long years of war and divided for the next half a century during which time massive foreign aid permitted a modem industrial State to be created and the United States built up immense wealth that enabled it to become the super power it is today. On the other hand Britain was left an impoverished nation with antiquated productive equipment. Comparisons on these aspects do not appear in the same detail in those parts of the book devoted to the nations other than Britain. It is to these parts that we must depart before returning to establishing whether any case has been made out for the British police to be cast as amongst the worst in the world.
Germany is the first country to be examined. To compare a country, even today not yet 150 years old, defeated in two world wars, occupied by the victors and having suffered the scourge of nazism with our own unbroken 1000 year history is a difficult, if not impossible task. This Part is devoted very largely to the divided East and West Germany and the reunification in 1990 as one nation and to the state of crime in Berlin. The reviewer would need more convincing proof of the state of crime in East Berlin than that shown in Figure 8.1 as being virtually non - existent over the years 1979 to 1989. Given that the Stasi ruled East Germany under the control of its Communist masters in Moscow, whilst records do exist, one can only wonder how far removed they are from the true state of affairs.
The smallest Part of the book is that dealing with France - just 29 pages - and as with Germany, hardly rates a mention in the press release. As an historical note it is excellent, tracing the disorder the country has periodically experienced from the time of the Revolution at the end of the 18th Century virtually to the present day. As a comparison with other nations, and particularly with Britain regarding policing and crime and the importance those aspects centred on the nineteen sixties, the reviewer was not able to discern exactly what the authors were trying to prove. Comparative graphs of similar matters across the four countries might have helped explain what was being attempted.
Finally one arrives at the pages devoted to the United States to which for some strange reason successive Home Secretaries seem to go to learn why things are not going right in this country. One can only wonder why when the answer continues to stare everybody in the face. Indeed some Americans police chiefs have made their reputation on it, namely to put the police officer back on the streets. Zero tolerance, broken windows, call it what you may, there is no substitute for the beat officer. Intelligence and problem solving policing are all very well but they keep officers off the street and one would have thought that the lessons of intelligence reports on the situation leading to the Iraq war would have been learned by now. So this Part serves to emphasize the importance of local policing and the question must be asked now is why, having appointed an American, Paul Evans, to head our Police Standards Unit some 17 months ago, there has been so little impact in that direction? The answer will lie in the concluding paragraphs that follow.
So has any sort of comparison been made out regarding the quality of the policing of the four subject nations? The answer must be no. Too much history and an inequality of detail makes it difficult to come to any balanced judgement. However no case can be made out for stating in the press release that Britain's policing is among the worst in the world. Of course crime has risen as affluence has increased, but that has been so across the developed world. It is now normal for people to own their own house and vehicle. Electronic goods have swamped the market and movement around the globe is commonplace. There has been some stabilization of crime figures because two areas of volume crime, namely burglary and car crime have diminished, due it is suggested, in no small measure to an improved and growing security industry.
The need now in this country is to keep a tighter grip on Chief Constables. They have, for all too long, hidden behind a veil of secrecy, their need to retain operational control and an alleged safeguarding of the public interest, so that in effect some 43 individuals have total control over how they control their fiefdoms but are not really able to agree among themselves how the policing of the nation should be carried out. This enables the more articulate to bring to the ear of authority their own pet ideas on how the job might be done. Despite the difficulties this creates for all ranks of police officers, the latter are left to make things work in a way which still leaves the police service of this nation looked up to, not only in developed countries, but across the world. That it could do better is not in doubt, but before strides can be made in that direction changes have got to made in the top levels of management and a common policing policy laid down. This left wing book does not examine those issues.
Brian Rowland, 16th February 2005
The allegation, or suggestion in this book is that Britain's policing is amongst the worst in the world. Britain has one of the highest crime rates in the developed world, and one of the most ineffective police forces, according to this new study from Civitas, the independent social policy think-tank.
In Cultures and Crimes: Policing in Four Nations, Norman Dennis and George Erdos compare the policing methods of Britain, France, Germany and the USA. All four countries witnessed steep rises in crime and anti-social behaviour following the cultural revolution of the 1960s, which broke down shared norms of acceptable behaviour. The study claims that, in spite of the fact that they have very different policing traditions, the USA, France and Germany have all made a more effective job of combating rising crime than Britain. By the beginning of the 1990s, France, Germany and the United States had begun to confront their modern problems of crime and disorder, while England's influential public intellectuals continued to claim that the 'crime problem' was mainly a figment of the imagination of the old and the ignorant. The result of this `treason of the intellectuals' was that England, from being a society remarkably free of crime and disorder, especially from the middle of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, by the late 1990s had a worse record than either France, Germany or the United States, even though each of these nations had far less favourable histories than England's of democratic law-abiding consensus.
Crime rates soar
Dennis and Erdos expose the falsity of Home Office claims, repeated like mantras, that in Britain `crime is low', `crime is at historically low levels' and `crime is falling'. These assurances do not impress ordinary citizens who have seen this country, change from one of the safest and most peaceable in the world to a seriously crime afflicted and disintegrating society. This is one of those instances where ordinary people are closer to the truth than the experts.
In 1964 in England and Wales there were 72,000 burglaries; in 2003/04 there were 402,000.
In 1964 there were 3,000 robberies; in 2003/04 there were 101,000.
There are now five domestic burglaries for every one domestic burglary in 1964, in spite of a great intensification of security measures being taken by private householders to protect their own homes. However, on the streets, where a person's security of person and property depends not on his own efforts, but upon the ability of the police and bystanders to keep good order, the deterioration of the situation has been by many magnitudes still worse. There were no fewer than thirty robberies of personal property in 2003/04 for every one in 1964.
In 1955 fewer than 500,000 crimes were recorded by the police in England and Wales. By the end of the 1960s there were over 1.5 million. By the end of the 1970s there were 2.7 million (p.xii).
Over the longer term, the rise in crime is so spectacular as to be difficult to comprehend.
In 1893 the annual number of recorded robberies in England and Wales fell below 400. There were then never as many as 400 recorded robberies a year in the whole of England and Wales until 1941. In stark contrast, from February to December 2001 there were never as few as 400 recorded robberies a month in the London Borough of Lambeth alone (p.xxiii).
For New Labour, statistics tend to start in 1997, when they gained power. A longer time perspective is rare, especially regarding crime. The claim that `the risk of being a victim of crime remains historically low' relates specifically to a comparison of the British Crime Survey of 1981 with the figures for 2003 - as if the nation enjoyed a low crime rate in 1981. However,`if "history" extends further back than 1981, then it is relevant that the police recorded 2,964,000 crimes in 1981. This was about double the number they had recorded in 1971, 1,646,000. That figure of 1,646,000 was itself about double the figure recorded in 1961, 806,000' (p.58).
Police numbers fall behind rising crime
While crime has been rising, police numbers have not kept pace. In 1921 there were 57,000 police officers dealing with 103,000 crimes - two crimes per officer. In 2002/2003 there were 134,000 police officers dealing with 5,899,000 crimes - 44 per officer (p.79).
However, inadequate police numbers do not account for the failure of the forces of law and order in Britain today, which has made crime a very low risk activity for the criminal. The attitude of the police towards crime and anti-social behaviour has changed radically from the principles which were laid down by the founders of the Metropolitan Police in the early nineteenth century. The Peelite Principles of policing (pp.80-81) put the prevention of crime as the highest priority, before the detection of the crime once it had been committed. This entailed constant, low-level interaction with local communities by officers - the origin of the `bobby on the beat'.
The importance of broken windows
The reason for the striking success of policing in New York, and other US cities that have adopted the Broken Windows approach to crime and anti-social behaviour (p.173 ff), is that it revives this tradition. The police pay attention to low-level acts of disorder, and deal with them before they create an environment in which the antisocial elements feel in control. Even Jacques Chirac, the Mayor of Paris in 1985, where the tradition of policing is very different, called for `beat policing... on the model of Britain' to combat rising disorder (p.149) - apparently unaware that beat policing is rapidly disappearing in Britain. The hostility of the law enforcement establishment to the old beat policing model is a significant factor in the police force's inability to get to grips with rising crime:
`When and to the extent that all the elements of the New York model are adopted by the police forces of England and Wales, to that extent the problems of crime and disorder in England and Wales will move towards a solution' (p.202).
Cultural drivers of crime
However, whatever tactics are adopted, a society in which crime is rising as rapidly as it is in Britain at the present time will always be an unpleasant and dangerous place to live. Dennis and Erdos argue that, however much we might try to improve policing, the real problem is the loss of internalised moral principles that prevent people from committing crimes in the first place. The rise in lawlessness reflects a decline in shared values, and Dennis and Erdos attribute this to the cultural revolution of the 1960s, which subverted many institutions through which moral capital was generated - in particular, the family based on marriage. Young people who grow up in troubled and dysfunctional households in which moral values are not inculcated, who attend schools where teachers are afraid or unwilling to teach the difference between right or wrong, who live in communities in which the influence of religious faith is negligible, will naturally be drawn towards the self-gratification and situational ethics that predominate in contemporary culture. This is the aspect of the crime problem that has become unmentionable, but Dennis and Erdos argue that the problem itself cannot be understood except within this context:
`Crime and disorder lie in the loss column of the profit-and-loss account of the material and cultural changes experienced by the rich and free societies of the West. Crime and disorder are not accidental and disposable aspects of post-1960s society. They are part of the price that has been paid for its advantages' (p.201).
Policing becomes difficult when shared norms of behaviour are lost, and there is even disagreement about what constitutes good and bad behaviour:
`A society on a large scale or a small scale ceases to exist when its members lose the capacity to agree on what facts are true and what conduct is good' (p.xxx).
Racist Murder and Pressure Group Politics - The Macpherson Report and the Police
The Report produced by Sir William Macpherson's inquiry into the death of black teenager Stephen Lawrence has been accused of making claims not based on evidence, of putting people on trial for thought crimes, of incompetence in its own proceedings and of undermining public security, in a devastating critique published today by CIVITAS: The Institute for the Study of Civil Society.
Racist Murder and Pressure Group Politics shows that the Macpherson Report produced no evidence at all of racist policies in the Metropolitan Police. The Macpherson Report did not even produce evidence of any racist 'bad apples' among the officers who were involved in the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
No Evidence of Racism
On the inquiry's own admission, it failed to find any racism in the way that the Stephen Lawrence inquiry was handled. The inquiry could not find any police officer in the Lawrence case whose conduct, language or attitude was racist in the usual sense of the term. So the racism the inquiry could not find was called 'overt' racism, and we hear no more about that. Macpherson invented its own definition that covered what it had been able to find, and called that 'racism'. Macpherson's racism becomes 'unwitting' prejudice, 'unwitting' racist stereotyping, as well as 'ignorance' and 'thoughtlessness'. What can't be 'seen' can be 'detected'. What cannot be 'detected' can be 'inferred'. If you deny that racism is rife, according to Macpherson, that is one of the main proofs that you are a racist. Racism persists because of the failure 'openly and adequately to recognise and address its existence'.
Macpherson's 'Unwitting' Racism
The Macpherson report popularised the idea that 'institutional' racism is rife in Britain. The Macpherson report credits Stokely Carmichael with the term, and treats Carmichael's contribution with great respect. This was an astonishing thing for Macpherson to do, for Carmichael is famous for calling for an all-out war against Israel, and saying, 'We must take a lesson from Hitler'.
Evidence of Police Unwitting Racism is Ludicrous
Most if not all of the inquiry's proofs of the 'unwitting' racism of individual police officers are ludicrous. Ordinary public inquiries and courts of law do not accept as evidence anything remotely as weak as Macpherson's proofs of 'unwitting' racism. Macpherson's 'proofs' are like 'proofs' of the gossiper in sexually puritanical societies. Once a person is under suspicion, then any glance, word or involuntary gesture is 'proof' that the suspect is guilty. Macpherson is the new Mrs Grundy. Here are five typical, not unusual, examples:
Low Standard of Proof and All-Encompassing Definition
Macpherson seems to have realised that even 'unwitting' racism is a charge that cannot be made to stick against any officer that the inquiry examined. (No one says there are not racist police officers. But Macpherson does not produce any evidence that there are any.) The report therefore switches to the 'collective' racism of organisations, which is mysteriously independent of the racism of individuals. This is even vaguer than the 'unwitting' racism of individuals, and the proof needed for it is even thinner. If the racism is 'collective' then what the witness at the hospital says she thought about how the police dealt with the Asian lady is just possibly tenuous 'evidence' against all police officers in the Met, and therefore against the officers in the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation.
Macpherson's Failure to Provide an 'appropriate and professional service'
The Macpherson inquiry added nothing to what was already well known about the police mismanagement of the Lawrence investigation. Macpherson took the lack of urgency and commitment in some areas of the investigation as proof of collective racism. In fact the worst two cases of mismanagement in connection with the Lawrence case were not cases of police mismanagement at all.
The Reputation of the Macpherson Report
The Macpherson Report should not be known for having demonstrated police racism but for blatantly abusing the trust we place in independent public inquiries. It began by looking for overt racism. When it found none it sought out informal racism which might reside in the 'canteen culture'. It found that no such attitudes had influenced the investigation of Stephen Lawrence's murder. It then lowered the threshold to 'unwitting racism' which, by its nature, cannot be proved but can be the subject of accusations. It finally plumped for 'institutional racism' by which Macpherson really meant 'collective failure'. Calling it 'institutional' racism invited confusion with 'institutionalised' racism- that is racism built in to systems, rules, or instructions from senior officers - which the Macpherson Report did not find.
Among the achievements of the Macpherson Report has been undermining public confidence in the independence of public inquiries.
Macpherson's definition of institutional racism is the pivot around which the whole of the report moves. It combines the two ideas of
1. the collective failure of an organisation to provide appropriate service to minority people of a certain colour, culture or ethnic origin because of their colour, culture or ethnicity, and
2. the 'unwitting' racism of individuals in the organisation:
'The collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people.'
As 'unwitting thoughtlessness' is a blatant tautology, the 'unwitting' properly refers only to the prejudice. Racist stereotyping, in that case, is not qualified as 'unwitting'. But it is probable that it is just a matter of the sentence being sloppily constructed, and in the definition prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and stereotyping are all supposed to be 'unwitting'. The doubt is all of a piece with Macpherson's pervasive carelessness and confusion.
Circular Reasoning and Neglect of Videotaped Evidence
Some of the Macpherson report's proofs of racism were circular and self-reinforcing. To question whether the murder of Stephen Lawrence was a purely racist crime was, in itself, adduced as evidence of racism. This was despite the fact that the suspects had been accused of violent offences against white people and were heard, in tape recordings made of their private conversations, to express violent hatred against white people. The tape recordings were quoted selectively, and this crucial fact does not appear in the Macpherson report.
The consequences of the Macpherson report are well known. Unlike the criminal code, where there are grades of offence, some more serious, some less, there are not grades of 'racism'. 'Racism' is an offence with a very low threshold. According to Macpherson, an incident is racist if anybody even claims it is racist. The police service collectively and/or police officers individually are either guilty of it or not. They are either absolutely racists, or absolutely not racists. The police careers of many officers were blighted or terminated as a result of the vague muddle about this 'unwitting' individual racism and collective 'institutional' racism. Police officers have naturally become more reluctant to get involved in situations, like stop and search, where they can face the accusation of racism. The Macpherson Report cost the taxpayer something in the region of £3 million. That is a high price to pay for more crime and weaker police protection.
Institutional Racism and the Police: Fact or Fiction?
Anti-racist programmes stir up racial strife
Programmes adopted by the Home Office and by the Metropolitan Police in the light of the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence could lead to a worsening of race relations in Britain, according to a new book from the Institute for the Study of Civil Society.
Writing in Institutional Racism and the Police.. Fact or Fiction?, David Green argues that the best hope for harmony between ethnic groups lies in the traditional liberal ideal of equality before the law, with the police and the courts paying no regard to anything except people's actual behaviour.
However, this approach is no longer deemed acceptable by the professional race-relations lobbyists who have been able to use the findings of the controversial Macpherson report to enhance their own status and influence. A booklet produced by the official agency for advising judges tells them that: 'Justice in a modem and diverse society must be "colour conscious", not "colour blind... (p. 3 8). This is a clear indication of the distance we have travelled from the ideal of equality.
'The fundamental danger is that, in our efforts to ensure that everyone within our frontiers feels at home, we fall prey to the subtle arguments of groups demanding racial preferences' (p.44).
Home Office targets and 'positive progress'
Institutional Racism and the Police is a collection of essays which present different viewpoints on
this sensitive topic. Home Office minister Mike O'Brien takes the view that 'The Lawrence report...
was a watershed for race issues in Britain' (p.25) and outlines the ways in which the Home Office
has responded to its recommendations:
'The Home Secretary has already set targets for the recruitment, retention and promotion of ethnic minorities within the Home Office and all its services, including the police, the fire service and the prison service... The aim is to get overall recruitment to the national average for ethnic minorities at about seven per cent... Positive progress within the Home Office should pave the way for the introduction of similar targets in all Whitehall departments and public sector organisations and we hope in due course that the private sector will decide itself to adopt them... The new duty to promote race equality will also oblige public authorities to integrate race equality into policy making, implementation and service delivery' (pp.33,34,35).
'We have made terrible mistakes'
Commander John Grieve, Director of the Metropolitan Police's Racial and Violent Crime Task
Force, writes of the devastating impact of the Macpherson report's findings of 'institutional racism'
on the police in London:
'We began to realise that the inquiry panel were eliciting evidence of a form of racism that had not... yet been fully defined... (pp. 10- 11) Institutional racism is about stereotyping; it is about being unwitting; it is about ignorance;... it is about white pretence and black people being seen as a problem (p. 14)... for the Met this is a time of profound change we have made terrible mistakes...' (p. 19).
The triumph of politics over truth
Lord Skidlesky, however, takes a less lofty view of the proceedings of the Macpherson inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence, regarding it is as more of a political than a Judicial process: 'It was appointed to do a political job, and faithfully discharged its brief (p. 5).
In their determination to blame the failure to find Stephen Lawrence's killers on 'institutional racism', members of the Macpherson inquiry failed to consider a more obvious explanation - that poor people, or neighbourhoods, get poor service, whatever their race' (p.4).
Lord Skidelsky argues that Macpherson only managed to pin the police failure on racism by
'expanding the definition of racism so far that it is invulnerable to falsification. Politics and truth
came into conflict, and politics won (p.2)
The 'black community' is a myth
Michael Ignatieff also believes that Macpherson missed the point, which was not racism but incompetence. 'Why were we talking about "race awareness", when the issue was equal justice before the law?' (p.21).
Ignatieff believes that there is no such thing as a 'black community', or a 'white community', and that to pretend that there is is to 'believe that skin trumps all other identities, and that we are only our surfaces' (p.21). Nor does he think that the police should be trained to respond to people as members of their gender, race or class. On the contrary, they should be made 'less "sensitive", less aware of difference, and more aware of one single identity: that the people they police are their
equals, with rights and recourse. Are we so balkanised into our racial and other group identities that we cannot see this?' (pp.22-3).
In common with other publications from the Institute for the Study of Civil Society, Institutional Racism and the Police presents a range of strongly-held views in the hope of encouraging a more enlightened public debate.
ZERO TOLERANCE: POLICING A FREE SOCIETY
Cracking down on hooliganism and petty crime reduces serious crime
Zero Tolerance.' Policing a Free Society, by William Bratton, Norman Dennis (Editor), Ray Mallon, John Orr, Charles Pollard.
The phrase 'zero-tolerance policing' is most associated in the public mind with William Bratton, who was appointed Commissioner of the New York Police Department in 1994 when crime was perceived to be running out of control. Committed to 'dramatically reducing crime, disorder and fear, his no-nonsense approach to minor street crime and quality-of-life offences, coupled with a re-organisation of the NYPD which devolved power down to precinct level, showed spectacular results. Over the past three years the crime rate has dropped by 37 per cent and the homicide rate by 50 per cent.
The Failure of Britain’s Police
Author: Norman Dennis, George Erdos and David Robinson
Publishers CIVITAS, The Mezzanine ElizabethHouse 39 York Road London SE1 7NQ
Publication Date: 2003
The Author’s state that "in January 2003the Home Office claimed that the chance of being a victim of crime ‘remainshistorically low’. However, the staggering rise in the volume of crime, withinliving memory, has been so great that it is difficult to convey the enormousshift in the law-abidingness and 'policeability' of the English."
As a child of the 40’s and 50’s this is myperception of the situation, memories are of houseswith the key on a string,with easy access for children, open doors and children playing out in safety -indeed we were out all day in school holidays and only turned up every time wegot hungry, (we were always hungry), not because we were underfed; simplybecause we were always on the move. TV- what was that? The people down theroad had one - they had two very odd children who weren’t allowed out.
We are told that December 2002 there were282 robberies of personal property in Lambeth. This figure, for one borough forone month, exceeded all robberies, personal and business, for the whole ofEngland and Wales in any year between the two world wars, with the exception of1932 (342) and 1938 (287). In 1971 there were 17 reported crimes for everypolice officer. There are now 44.
I think that about sums it up.
Norman Dennis compares crime and policingin London, once thought of as a safe city, and New York, once regarded asdangerous. In the last ten years crime has risen in London and fallendramatically in New York. New York has increased the number of its police andchanged the manner of their deployment. Low-level crime is targeted in order toretake the streets for law-abiding citizens. Every commander is responsible forreducing crime in his precinct. In London, by contrast, the forces of law andorder have lost control of the situation and spuriously justify thedecriminalisation of many offences on the grounds that they are not really sobad.
The Author’s quote "Law breakers begin byrobbing the law abiding citizen of his tranquillity, property and bodilysafety. They end by robbing him and his children of the benefits of a freesociety."
I have the same question as thousands,"When are we going to get to grips with it?"