Has public trust in the police weakened due to the recent events?
By Nigel Tate: Political Editor
According to the GOV.UK website, public confidence in the police has been declining. From a sample size of 35,000 people, among all races, from 2015/16 to 2018/19, public confidence has fallen from 79% to 75%.
The Black community from all the races sampled in the survey, have the most distrust in the police, as they feel and are often targeted by police. For instance, “black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched in comparison to white people”, as claimed by the National Statistics.
Similarly, a survey conducted by the Metropolitan Police depicts that overall satisfaction in the police has fallen from 77% to 64%, from March 2017 to March 2020. Thereby, we can only imagine what further harm has been done towards the police force due to the series of events that took place in March 2021.
So what events have damaged the police’s reputation?
Sarah Everard disappeared on the 3rd of March from her home in Clapham, and sadly her body was found in Ashford, a week later. What makes this story more terrifying is that this inhumane crime was carried out by a serving police officer, PC Wayne Couzens. The police may have solved this mystery quickly, perhaps due to media pressure, but this incident goes further than most murder cases as it not only demonstrates what women face every day, but if women cannot rely on the police to protect them, who else can they look too?
The Sarah Everard case have sparked the political debate of sexual abuse and harassment towards women, allowing women to speak about their own experiences. This debate has also exposed an allegation made against an Essex police officer, accused of raping two female colleagues in 2017. The police officer in question faced no charges whatsoever, and instead the victims of the alleged crime each received a settlement of £11,600 and 17,100.
Last but not least, another serving police officer has been found guilty of being a member of a Neo-Nazi terror group (National Action), as well as being the first police officer to be charged of terrorism in the UK. Benjamin Hannam was charged for possessing extremist material, filming propaganda videos and graffitiing the Nazi symbol on public property in Swindon. Hannam’s case highlights a flaw in the Metropolitan Police security for recruiting an extremist to be part of their force, a force designed to protect us.
These cases maybe “isolated” and “rare” according to the police, however as all occurred within a space of a month, we can only wonder what more has happened over the last couple of years?
The police handling of the mourners at the Sarah Everard vigil, caused outrage within the public, as the police were manhandling people for not following covid restrictions. On the other hand, if you compare this gathering to the Anti-Mask protests or people gathering in the park because of some sunny weather, this certainly undermines the police’s actions at the vigil. Nevertheless, Commissioner C. Dick justified the police’s tactics, whilst the Government have proposed a bill to grant the police with more powers to intervene in protests that are considered “disruptive” but not violent.
‘Kill the Bill’ is the public’s reaction to the bill, as the bill would threaten our basic democratic rights. Kill the Bill protests are seen across England and more infamously in Bristol, due to the clashes between the police and the public. So is this violence justified? Unfortunately, yes, as violence tends to add pressure to influence political change, especially when it goes against our democracy.
Overall, there are many good police officers, who join the police to protect us and serve our rights. Yet there is a need for greater change, such as how the police approach certain situations, tackling institutional racism, thorough background checks of new officers, and being accountable for their actions. So which side are you on, do you believe the police are here to protect us or constrain us?