This week the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee published it’s report on the 21st anniversary of Lord McPherson’s report into the death of Stephen Lawrence. I always thought it should have been called the Lawrence report, but apparently thats not how things work
The committee concluded, correctly that a huge amount of progress has been made in the last 21 years. They did however conclude that there is a lot of work to do to make the racial make up of police forces match modern Britain.
This will come as no surprise to readers of this blog who read all about this a few months back.
The British model of policing is by consent:
To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
To recognize always that the power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behavior, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect
To recognize always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing cooperation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
If the public are the Police then they should reflect the society that they give full time attention to. The public are not the Police if only one section of the public are reflected in the police forces that serve them. The Police earn public support by respecting community principles. Winning public approval requires hard work to build reputation: enforcing the laws impartially, hiring officers who represent and understand the community, and using force only as a last resort.
UK policing has come a long way and is a million miles away from the racially distorted justice system we see in the US. But there are still some serious problems that need addressing if we are to stop another Stephen Lawrence murder.