Political Policing

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A cross post from My Doubts.

The words ‘politics’ and ‘police’ have the same root, but they have drifted too far from the root and too close to each other. Polis meant a body of citizens or a city state, police protect them and politics represents them.

Now politics has moved away from that body of citizens, as have the police. I have previously made plain my disdain for the idea of hate crime. I don’t think motive should be important unless it mitigates the crime (for example self-defence). Setting apart certain groups as more important victims is not blind justice. Allowing the police and prosecutors to judge motive means they are automatically politicised.

In front of me is a case in point, in a copy of the Operational Directory for Sussex Police. Several parts of the ‘Hate Crimes’ section are politically controversial or likely to encourage misinterpretation.

On racism

“In its more subtle form it is as damaging as in its overt form”

What more subtle form? How does the officer know if he is seeing subtle racism or just inconsiderate and unthinking behaviour? Is an officer going to look to find subtle racism reading that advice? How about if he sees subtle racism when someone reports a crime by a non-white, so the police ignore the crime and go after the victim or witness? I would not have considered that 12 years ago, now it is easy to believe.

“The term ‘racist incident’ must be understood to include both crimes and non-crimes in policing terms. Both must be reported, recorded and investigated with equal commitment”

Why should a non-crime “in police terms” be investigated by police at all? Why should they be investigated when there are not enough resources to investigate all crimes? If they are investigated at all why should they receive equal commitment?

“Incidents where visiting international students are the victims of crime will normally be recorded as racist incidents”

Why? This only goes to show that the way police define hate crime has no rational basis.

So the official guidance from Sussex Police advises that police see the bogeyman of racism and hate wherever possible, and to investigate even if there was no crime. This is advice to harass people for their thoughts and opinions. This is, quite literally, Orwellian. Reporting, recording and investigation of opinion as if we have no freedom of conscience is making political issues an offence.

Update: I spoke to a friend with police connections. One of the main reasons for identifying crimes against foreign students as racist is so that the files are easy to find from a large number of police reports. Remember that next time you see hate-crime statistics. Many of those are for convenience of categorisation, they are not hate crimes at all.

Funny how I don’t see this as reducing the relevance of my post.



One response to “Political Policing”
Post a Comment | Post Comments (Atom)

JuliaM said...

Hate crime is a pointelss, feel good exercise by the establishment.

There should just be crime. The reason for it should never make any difference to the sentence.

2 September 2009 at 17:30