Saturday, 6 June 2009

The British Police: An eyesore to the public!

I am still in shock. The pictures and clips were not just barbaric but also cynical, repugnant and inhumane. The first thing that actually flashed in my mind was the picture of naked Jesus Christ being dragged on the mud and being inflicted with numerous and untold bodily harms by the sadistic soldiers detailed to do that dirty job.

The more agonising part is that am yet to believe that the incident actually took place where it took place and could you imagine after all these stories of the beauty, peace and tranquillity in heaven, we end up seeing another Iraq and Afghanistan there. Oh! Heaven can wait because hell would be better off.

It is therefore with a heart filled with sorrow that am laying my heart bare over the incident that happened recently in the city centre during the demonstration over the G20 Summit. The picture of angry police men unleashing their frustration on innocent demonstrators is never what we bargained for when we subscribed to the democratic system of government.

The idea behind democracy is that the fundamental right of each citizen would be guaranteed by the state so far they play their part well in nation building by paying their taxes and swearing allegiance to the state. Democracy in opposition to autocracy and authoritarianism is built upon the foundation that the electorates are the government. They are the leaders and it is only their will that must be reflected upon at all time. They should be listened to at all times because they are the state. Without them the state would cease to exist.

It is purely because of this reason and the common sense that everyone could not be in government at the same time that the idea of having representatives to represent the interest of all was adopted and that has been done well right from the time of the Greeks up till today in democratic countries. The simple idea here is that the government is the people. It is there to pursue the interest of the people and to ensure that the rights of the people are not only guaranteed but to also ensure that justice prevails in the society at all time. Ubi jus ibi remedium!

Democracy is a very humanitarian form of government. It does not believe in coercion but on dialogue. It does not glorify in aggressiveness but in peaceful resolutions of conflicts and crisis. It frowns at injustices and always goes after punishment and remedy. It is against this background that things people take for granted are seriously frowned at in democracy. Lynching, corruption, fighting, assault, battery, road raging, threat and others like them are seriously frowned at and completely unacceptable. In democracy things are simply followed democratically. This is why a victim could end up behind the bar if he takes the law into his hands. In democracy the due process prevails at all time.

Democracy in different parts of the world is practiced differently even in Africa and the Middle East where majority of us think that democracy is nonexistent. Their democracy is shaped to suit their needs though they could go to the extreme sometimes times. But the form of democracy we learnt from Europe and America has been a model and it is precisely because of this that some of them especially America has been fighting tooth and nail to impose their form on others.

The western democracy is built on the rights of the citizen. While the French democracy for instance is built upon the principle of egalitarianism that of America is hinged upon the pursuit of happiness. The British democracy has always had its foundation on the rights of the people hence the Magna Carta. One common feature though is that all these democracies recognises and gives equal right to all. The disabled have the same right as the Queen just as the parents are also forced democratically to recognise and respect the rights of their children. It is also under the same principle of democracy that we are convinced that the police are our friend and is there all the time to protect us. But bearing in mind what happened during that demonstration one begins to wonder if this is true.

The pictures and clips we saw showed us another colour of the British Police. Before seeing those clips and pictures, I used to think that the United Kingdom has got the finest and most disciplined police ever in the world but the incident of that day proved otherwise. I never knew that these guys are street thugs recruited to unleash their frustration on innocent citizens.

The first clip and picture showed the British Police pushing the late Ian Tomlinson on April 1, 2009. Ian had his hands in his pocket, a proof that he was never aggressive to the police and obviously obeying the command of the police. If Ian was aggressive, he would have been shouting and raising his hands in rage. That was obviously what we did not see of Ian. The picture and clip simply portrayed Ian as a very gentle man willingly obeying the orders dished out by the police.

Usually obedience brings about understanding but in Ian’s case his obedience brought about the aggressive force that would eventually lead to his untimely death. From the clip of Ian with his hands in his pocket obviously obeying the police order to leave the area, we saw another clip of a police dog after him and a police man pushing him down.

That picture was very shocking and would be fresh forever in our mind just like that picture of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in China. There is no doubt that the police used an aggressive force on Ian. The police are allowed by law to use force on people but that could only be applied only when other avenues have been exhausted and even at that the force has to be reasonable while any other thing that could lead to dangerous bodily harm and death should only be done in self defence.

In Ian’s case, the police are found wanting. Ian never used force on the police. He was never aggressive and never used threatening or abusive words on the police. He simply obeyed the order and walked away with his two hands in his pocket. Those hands in the pocket are a very big and powerful sign. The hands have come to become a testimony that he never threatened the police in any way. The reward he got for this civil and gentleman behaviour is his death.

That same day we also saw another clip of a woman, Nicola Fisher. I did not see the clip very well because it was obviously taken with a camera phone but from the little I saw the woman must be in her 30s and this young police man was busy demonstrating his love for baton on the woman. Unlike Ian, the woman was resisting and ostensibly shouting back at the policeman who was also shouting at her. In that clip the police man throwing caution, prudence and shame in the wind kept beating the woman with the baton in the full and naked glare of the public.

What happened on the part of Nicola Fisher and Ian Tomlinson is obviously the use of torture which is contrary to the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Optional Protocol To The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Article 1 of the 1984 Convention clearly defined torture as what happened to Ian and Nicola and asked the state signatories of which UK is one of them to guard against it.

“For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions”, says the Article 1 of the Convention.

What happened on that day was very animalistic and was never in good shape and picture for the British police. The scenario painted that day by the British police was very dirty and nothing to write home about. It is enough to give hypertension and cholera on peace loving people. The worst aspect of the whole stuff is that am yet to convince myself that this is true and that it actually happened in the United Kingdom and the fact that I saw it on the British television is a big shame am yet to recover from.

Things like that are never associated with the British police. It is a normal part of life in the American, Asia and African policing system. The British police have been a model for other police forces in the world that they have not stopped sending their men to the UK to have authentic police training. Once upon a time the British police was a beacon of democracy and a bulwark of civil protection. It was held in admiration by people of all races and tongues and revered by kings, queens and princes of the world. Everybody simply talked about the highest form of discipline, intelligence, professionalism and people-friendliness within the British police. In fact it was the toast of every one.

Whatever happened to that British police is a shock to all of us today and a bigger one to those of us who held them with the highest esteem. The event of these days, has literally painted the British police as dark as that dark uniform they put on. It is simply scandalous the level of insanity and stupidity this great force has put itself into. The British police have simply thrown caution in the wind and their case could be today aptly described as a pure case of one week one trouble no matter whose Ox is gored.

We are yet to recover from the shocking news of the ransacking of the residential home and parliamentary office of Damian Green, an MP and Shadow Home Secretary. The privilege Green enjoys within the parliament and the need to consult properly with the parliamentary sergeant-at-arms was thrown in the wind. The fact that there is everything wrong with the police arresting a parliamentarian in the house of parliament never deterred the police even to the extent of eventually arresting and detaining Mr. Green in the Belgravia police station.

While in his house in Kent, the Police were busy ransacking his house in the presence of his wife and despite the fact that Mrs. Green is a lawyer and therefore should enjoy some form of documentary privilege, the police kept on going through every single document in their home including their love letters. But the horrifying aspect of this is that all this drama was taking place the same day terrorists were busy unleashing carnage in the city of Mumbai in India. 

While the carnage was going on the head of the Metropolitan Police in-charge of anti-terrorism activities was busy with over 25 anti-terrorist policemen going through the home and office of Mr. Damian Green, thereby putting our own lives in jeopardy over an issue we learnt that would not lead to prosecution. That same police boss would later resign for same oversight and professional misconduct in exposing a highly classified document to counter a terrorist activity in the UK to be photographed by the paparazzi.

This was coming barely months after the then chief of the Metropolitan Police Sir Ian Blair was accused of being a racist while the Metropolitan Police he was heading was branded an institutional racist. Being a shame on the taxpayers, Blair was later forced to resign only to be followed by another high profile racist accusation by a female employee of the force, Yasmine Rehman. Before then another police officer Ali Dizaei has been complaining of the same racism within the force.

The way the police are going about their stop and search power has also been a major concern to the stakeholders in this democracy especially the minorities. It is very clear that the British police is dominated by whites and as a result are more likely to be accused of racism when handling issues that involves the ethnic minorities. The veracity of this is not what am here to prove or disprove but the fact that blacks have been major victims of this stop and search is a major source of concern. 

The British police are almost seven times more likely to stop and search a black person than they do his white counterpart. Figures released recently by the Justice ministry revealed that the gap is widening compared to 2005 when black people were six times more likely to be stopped than white people.

Asians were about twice as likely to be stopped and searched as white people. For instance in 2005/2006 there was 878,153 stops and searches in England and Wales. Of these 15% were black people and 8% were of Asian people. For every 1000 black people in England and Wales, there were an average of 102 stops and searches in the same year. This is almost seven times greater than the average of 15 per 1000 people within the white population.

The Metropolitan police conducted 75% of all searches on black people in England and Wales. The most common reason for this according to the Metropolitan is for drugs meaning that the Police trained to treat and see all as equal before the law are fixated on the principle that drugs are synonymous with black people. This is a pure case of criminal profiling, giving a verdict before judgement, giving dog a bad name to hang it and having an interest in a case where you are the prosecutor.

In 2005/06, 58% of stops of black people were for suspected drug offences compared to 39% of white people. Of those black people stopped, 13% were subsequently arrested. This compares to 12% of stops leading to arrest across all ethnic groups. As a result of this and similar incidents the number of black people in the UK prison as a proportion of the total population was 7.3 in 1000 in comparison to 1.3 per 1000 for white people and 1.7 per 1000 for Asian people. This is akin to what is happening in America where majority in the US prison are black despite the fact they are minority. The reason behind this scenario is what I intend to tackle in my next writing.

The story of the British police is also not different from that of their counterparts in the Immigration. A lot of allegations have been levelled against them on their verbal, psychological and physical threats and assault on asylum seekers and illegal immigrants most of whom are blacks and ethnic minorities yet nobody has taken it seriously simply because a man facing deportation is not likely to have the time and means to press for charges. But then the reported incidents of how they manhandle deportees are enough to make all of us bury our heads in shame. Just as the scandalous behaviour of the police on G20 demonstration brought out the other side of the police to the public, we expect soon to see that of their immigration counterpart. But Oh God let it not be another death.

With all these accusations and pictures, serious minds are left with no other option other than to begin to ask what has gone wrong with the British police. This is not what we are paying our tax for and obviously not what we traded for. This is never the contract we signed with the police. We signed a contract with the police to be obedient to them, never to resist arrest, help them in combating crime, be law-abiding and peace-loving in return for them to assure and guarantee our life and safety. To the best of my knowledge I do not think this contract involved beating us with a baton, pushing us to our death, stopping and searching us because of our colour or even fiddling while Rome burns.

As a result of this scenario one is forced to begin to reflect on the seriousness and professionalism of the British police especially the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police who are the two main actors behind the G20 Summit debacle. What are the criteria for recruiting would-be police officers especially the Metropolitan and what is their training and on-going formation like? How much do they know about the civil rights, legal and parliamentary privileges, the sacredness of the House of Parliament, democracy, Bill of Rights, racial issues, Magna Charta and supremacy of the electorates under democracy and more importantly how to handle the public.

If they do know all these one begins to wonder who is to blame. Have the Met and other UK police forces used the tax payers money to waste huge time and manpower recruiting those not fit for the force and thereby incompetent and lacking in common sense to know how to do their job? Have they used our money to recruit those who would rather spend time have orgy with women in Heathrow Airport toilets instead of doing their job? It is like our money has been used all these while to recruit thugs, touts and pegs in square holes.

We made a contract with the British police and so far we carry out our own part of the contract they are also under a moral, political and communitarian obligation to carry out their own part and their own part they should be reminded is to know that we are the lords and masters and that our life should be protected at all time while the use of torture should never be used at all on us.

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