‘The End of Policing’ by Alex S Vitale, published by Verso, October 2017
During the 2017 UK general election, the Police Federation ran an extremely successful campaign, eventually taken up for different motivations by both the Labour Party’s left-wing leadership and the right-wing press, arguing a direct link between falling police numbers and rising levels of crime.
Since then, only Rebecca Roberts from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS) has been able to offer any challenge to this idea within the mainstream media. Police numbers have undoubtedly reduced since 2010 but still remain at historically high levels after years of growth. Nevertheless, this explanation for an increase in some types of crime has become an accepted truth: questioning the need for more police officers is seen as straying far outside the Overton window of political acceptability.
‘The End of Policing’, a new book by Brooklyn associate professor Alex S Vitale, goes much further, however, by posing questions that seem almost unthinkable in the US (its main focus) or here in the UK.
What if we really need significantly fewer police officers and more attention to alternatives that are less coercive? What if the police are wholly unsuited to solving many of the problems the state asks them to deal with? Read more
A guest post by Saqib Deshmukh of High Wycombe Community Advocates and Netpol on a new report raising serious questions about the policing of last month’s EDL march and counter-demonstration
High Wycombe Community Advocates (HWCA) were one of the key local groups behind the hugely successful counter demonstration against the EDL on Saturday April 9th. We were pleased overall that it went off relatively peacefully and it was great to see a mix of young and old and different sections of communities and political affiliations coming together.
We hugely outnumbered the English Defence League whose presence only seemed larger due to the large number of police officers around them at all times! It showed how local and county/region wide groups could come together to find common purpose and ensure that there was effective opposition to the English Defence League.
However, it also showed how out of touch how local leadership particularly in the Asian community are with what is happening on the ground. Read more
This weekend our third pilot project trains a new team of independent ‘Community Monitors’ to observe and record the actions of police officers, this time in Greater Manchester.
After successfully setting up Community Monitor pilot projects in Birmingham and west London, Netpol is now working in partnership with Northern Police Monitoring Project to set up a group in Manchester.
Are you based in the Greater Manchester area and interested in supporting others to resist and challenge infringements on their rights? Read more
Last week, teams of Community Monitors (CMs) trained by Netpol spent the August Bank Holiday weekend observing and recording the substantial policing operation at Notting Hill Carnival in west London.
The response from members of the public in west London to the thirty-three Community Monitors who had volunteered their time was very positive, particularly from those who had previous experience of police harassment and violence. A number expressed their surprise that CMs were prepared to take the risk of monitoring the police. We found that many people attending Carnival knew little about their rights and CMs were able to distribute around 7000 rights information cards, as well as 2000 wristbands printed with the contact details of reliable solicitors. Read more
On Sunday 24 and Monday 25 August, teams of trained, independent ‘Community Monitors’ will observe and record the actions of police officers during this year’s Notting Hill Carnival in west London.
Netpol’s Community Monitoring Project has organised local community scrutiny of the policing operation at the Carnival, working with a group of activists centred around the Community Monitoring Project – West London. ‘Community Monitors’ will observe and gather evidence, talk to attendees about their experiences of street-level policing, hand out legal rights information, and deter police abuse. Read more
On 20 July 2014, a team of trained independent ‘Community Monitors’ will observe and record the actions of police officers and security staff during Birmingham’s popular Simmer Down Reggae Festival.
Community scrutiny of the policing operation in and around Handsworth Park, where the festival takes place, is part of Netpol’s Community Monitoring Project and has been organised alongside 4WardEver UK, Birmingham Ethnic Minorities Association (BEMA) and BirminghamStrong Justice 4 All. Funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation enables Netpol to pilot three community monitoring projects in different parts of the country, which aim to increase police accountability over the treatment of individuals and the process of local decision-making in each of the three pilot areas. Similar projects are planned for Manchester and west London. Read more
There is now abundant evidence that the police are using terrorism powers to stop and question activists on their political activities when they pass through UK ports. It is undoubtedly very helpful to the police that the draconian powers introduced by Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 provide no right to silence – a refusal to answer questions can lead to a criminal conviction. The powers are also hugely intimidating – people can be detained for up to nine hours and have their DNA and fingerprints taken. To top it all, no ‘reasonable suspicion’ is needed – the police and border authorities can stop whoever they wish. What more could ‘total policing’ wish for? Read more
An open letter to Theresa May, Nick Herbert and Bernard Hogan-Howe has been published by a collective of organisations opposing police stop and search policy, including Netpol. The letter calls for, amongst other things, the suspension of s60 stop and search powers, which allow the police to stop and search whoever they wish, without any need for ‘reasonable suspicion’.
There is strong evidence that s60 is disproportionately used against the black and Asian population. In a recent study of protest policing published in July this year, Netpol found that
“s60 is also inappropriately used at political protests to target particular social groups, such as young people, or to harass individuals who are known political activists or associated with particular political groups.”
A group of Newham Monitoring Project Community Legal Observer volunteers have been “banned” from entering Stratford Park, a site open to the general public who wish to watch the free Olympic livescreens, by security on the ground who apparently accused them of “making it easy for criminals and giving them tips” when giving out Stop and Search rights-information cards to members of the public. Read more