Tag Archives: social equality

Ending overpolicing: a new, liberal approach

As liberals, we are uniquely placed on issues of tackling societal problems, as the UK party which has historically been driven by caring from the community level up, not just the top down: redistributive, willing to stand up for those marginalised by society, and sceptical of an overbearing and authoritarian state infrastructure.

Today, especially given the racial disparities which are all too clear in our policing and our society as a whole, that liberal legacy must be put to work again, starting a radical rethink of how Britain deals with its social problems. We use the police for far too many problems across our society: overstretched forces dealing with problems the police were never going to be effective at solving, leading to problems developing, community mistrust, and discriminatory outcomes. It’s a round peg in a square hole that’s damaging all of us as successive governments keep trying the authoritarian method of hammering it in ever harder. But there is a better way.

Finding ways to ensure people, especially black people, feel reassured that the police have appropriate powers and oversight has to be part of the puzzle. Stop and Search powers are largely ineffectual, widely mistrusted, and statistically clearly flagrantly racist in their deployment. There can no longer be any argument for Section 60 powers that allow Stop and Searches without suspicion of a crime to be controlled solely within the police force: they should be abolished and an external magistrate should be required to sign any sort of future search order, reducing overuse and acting as an important assurance for communities. Stronger oversight measures that bring in communities better, and ensuring that groups like the Border Force come under proper scrutiny, are also important parts of that picture.

The real task ahead, however, is to broaden our conception of how to deal with societal problems away from simply using the procedural justice system, the pipeline of policing, courts and sentencing that we rely on for far too many of our problems. On the front line, we should be piloting community teams that work on conflict de-escalation and helping people toward other services they need. Run from local government not from the Home Office, these could provide a more easily trusted, more engaged service that is better equipped to deal with problems, preventing them escalating and providing a more specialised approach to solving a wide range of problems in a more localised and sensitive way. That could mean anything from ensuring homeless people have good access to night services, to talking people through a neighbourhood conflict that has caused, or risks causing, property damage, to forwarding a shoplifting incident to appropriate restorative justice systems.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

    No recent comment found.