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Cops without a badge

David Lammy touched on a crucial issue – how do we create more trust between young people and the police?

By Richard Sudan

David Lammy, writing in the Evening Standard, talked of the need for stronger links between community and the police, calls that for too long have fallen on deaf ears.

We’ve seen the tragedies pile up over the years that have affirmed Lammy’s point time and time again.

The inept handling of the Stephen Lawrence enquiry, the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, and the violence inflicted on Ian Tomkinson who later died, are sad examples of the Met’s failings. Yes we’ve seen some measures taken by the Met, but at what price?

Commenting about gun crime prevalent within Turkish and Kurdish communities in North London, Lammy highlighted the duty the police have to forge relationships with the people who live in those communities that would build and sustain trust and confidence.

Lammy also mentioned as he has in the past the fragile relationship that people in some areas of London have with the police, and why if the Met under Commissioner Paul Stephenson had continued the policy of regular armed patrols, the potential to worsen the situation would have been greater.

Lammy’s remarks were yesterday echoed by the Sir Hugh Orde, one of Britain’s longest serving police officers.

Outlining his view on the direction the police should be taking given that the budget for the police is likely to decrease significantly over the next few years (by roughly 20%), he commented: “We need an independent, thoughtful, but not long-winded review of what is the best structure to deal with the threats facing the U.K at every level.”

He went on to say that the current system was defined along the premise that the main issues of concern were “anti social behaviour dog fouling and bicycles on the pavement. They say the solution to everything is more cops on the street – well no, it isn’t.”

Lammy and Orde are right in that this is a problem which must be dealt with in the right way – especially given the limits on resources that the police are likely to face.

Orde has said that current forces should be amalgamated in order to move forward. Lammy underlined in no uncertain terms that the key to progress is greater sense of trust between the police and the people of the communities most hard hit by serious problems.

It is clear that stopping and searching ten year olds along with police with guns on the streets will not create harmony.

Lammy’s calls for the Met and Mayor Johnson to hatch some new plans to deal with this problem are to be commended. Orde’s plan for a reformed system looks realistic. Now the politicians need to sanction action.

They need to up their game. Let’s not forget it was Johnson who elbowed Ian Blair out the way to head the MPA. Only when it is seen as ‘our’ problem rather than ‘their’ problem will we see the frequency of these tragedies begin to curb.

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