Bars For Change: who polices the police?

I wrote quite a lot about UK policing earlier in the year in relation to the failure of policing (at best) that lead to the death of Smiley Culture. News about that case was always going to ebb and flow, not least because it is now in the bureaucratic hands of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

But… it was never just about Smiley Culture. Since Smiley’s death a number of other people have died in suspicious circumstances in police custody. Many questions are being asked about heavy handed policing at demonstrations against the austerity measures being introduced by the UK government to pay for the banking crisis. In recent weeks London’s Metropolitan Police have been implicated in the “Hackgate” News International scandal.

Jody McIntyre’s series of films touches on some of the issues, asking the right questions and making the right links. The first episode is above and includes involvement from Benjamin Zephaniah, Merlin Emanuel (both of who have lost family members in police custody) and victims of police crime. The soundtrack includes contributions from grime artists Ghetts, Logic, Mic Righteous and DVS. A future episode will deal with the coalition government’s budget cuts.

The terrible truth is that hard times can bring people together. Four years ago it would have been inconceivable that student protestors and grime artists would find common ground.

Things aren’t about to get any better – an “anarchist threat” is already being talked up by the Met in the run up to the 2012 Olympics, with predictably hilarious consequences.

More seriously, Mark Duggan was fatally shot by the police in Tottenham last night, about a mile away from where I am typing this. Unusually, the IPCC were on the scene within hours – perhaps as a result of the scrutiny they have found themselves under this year?



  2. In the Independent letters page today : Spot on comment.

    ” Is it so spurious to suggest that an economic and political system that stresses materialist wealth, which constantly exposes us to increasingly sophisticated and ubiquitous advertising, yet which oversees the breakdown of communities and the impoverishment of millions in order to increase the wealth of a minority of individuals and businesses, might be responsible for creating the sorts of individuals who have taken to the streets?

    We do not need to argue that these people were explicitly politicised, or fighting for some sort of social justice – on the contrary, we can draw the opposite conclusions. Many of these people appear to have been acting selfishly, competitively, and without thought for the consequences of their actions. If only they had a middle-man in a developing country to do their looting, they would make fine capitalists.

    When riots like this take place, it is spurious to suggest the social context is not to blame. I do not condone much of what I have seen, but it is perfectly understandable, when we reflect upon the sort of society more respectable thieves in suits have created for us.”

  3. the following is excellent — check the full link after the article.

    Dear Mr & Mrs Cameron,

    Why did you never take the time to teach your child basic morality?

    As a young man, he was in a gang that regularly smashed up private property. We know that you were absent parents who left your child to be brought up by a school rather than taking responsibility for his behaviour yourselves. The fact that he became a delinquent with no sense of respect for the property of others can only reflect that fact that you are terrible, lazy human beings who failed even in teaching your children the difference between right and wrong. I can only assume that his contempt for the small business owners of Oxford is indicative of his wider values.

    Even worse, your neglect led him to fall in with a bad crowd. He became best friends with a young man who set fire to buildings for fun. And others:

    There’s Michael Gove, whose wet-lipped rage was palpable on Newsnight last night. This is the Michael Gove who confused one of his houses with another of his houses in order to avail himself of £7,000 of the taxpayers’ money to which he was not entitled (or £13,000, depending on which house you think was which).

    Or Hazel Blears, who was interviewed in full bristling peahen mode for almost all of last night. She once forgot which house she lived in, and benefited to the tune of £18,000. At the time she said it would take her reputation years to recover. Unfortunately not.

    But, of course, this is different. This is just understandable confusion over the rules of how many houses you are meant to have as an MP. This doesn’t show the naked greed of people stealing plasma tellies.

    Unless you’re Gerald Kaufman, who broke parliamentary rules to get £8,000 worth of 40-inch, flat screen, Bang and Olufsen TV out of the taxpayer.

    Or Ed Vaizey, who got £2,000 in antique furniture ‘delivered to the wrong address’. Which is fortunate, because had that been the address they were intended for, that would have been fraud.

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