There has been a mixed response to participants confidence in the police. Most people have a negative response when answering questions about the police historically. Communities still have strong opinions on historic police brutality, particularly during the Brixton Riots era.
However, when they reflected on more recent engagement with the police some (but not all) people had more positive experiences. Some contributing factors have included the development of mobiles which enable people to record incidents quickly and conveniently, enabling victims to secure evidence of crimes and perpetrators. Others have felt more confident as transparency and communications have improved. For example, Independent Monitoring Groups that enable ordinary members of the community to scrutinise police Stop & Search data.
Sylvia explains that historic racism within the police force was a contributing factor to the Race Relations Acts being implemented. “There was a lot of discrimination – and still is – in jobs, with the police, in institutions in general and the Racial Equality Council had a campaign in trying to change the law.” Sylvia Erskine (Interviewed 12 June 2017)
Vidod explained that historically it was difficult to be taken seriously by the policewomen reported Hate Crime due to a lack of evidence. This made the community reluctant to report incidents to the police. “We didn’t feel that… With the police, they need proof and that time you didn’t have mobile cameras you can take a photo or something like that. It was difficult to have proof. So we didn’t bother to even tell them. There was no use. Unless somebody was very abusive in the Post Office or something like that, we used to call the police. But otherwise, we never called the police or anything.”
Vinod Dattani (Interviewed 09 May 2017)
Paul raised even more serious concerns over the police victim blaming. “Well, I mean the police, for example, often, not only did they not recognise racial incidents or hate incidents at all. But they often used to blame the victim. There were many cases that I was involved, where the victims have been arrested. Because the police said that they were being malicious in making these allegations of racism or racial attacks. And indeed, they went even further. Sometimes they questioned the immigration status of the people. So the police not only were not helpful, they were actually, sometimes positively aggressive. And that became in itself a source of harassment.”
Paul Crofts (Interviewed 22 February 2017)
Tré demonstrated a lack of confidence in the police which was mainly based on friends negative experiences of seeking help from the police. He explained how it has influenced him not to report Hate Crime that he has experienced post-Brexit. “I don’t think the police take it seriously unless you’ve got a gun in your hand or a knife or something like that, they’re not going to take it…They can’t see any physical, um, repercussions of an incident with something like that. It’s just he said / she said and it’s just, pretty much just forward and backwards and at the end of the day, it will look like a waste of police time as well… when it’s just he said / she said – there’s no evidence of, you can’t censor speech like that.
ST: Do you know anybody who has ever attempted to report something to the police and hasn’t been taken seriously?
Tré: I’ve had friends from college (I went to Northampton College, Booth Lane) and they’ve reported it and they’ve not really seen any results from it so… they don’t really do it [report it] either…
ST: So hearing that from your friends, has that reduced your confidence in the system, the reporting system?
Tré: With hate crime, umm, yes but, in the UK as well, the relationship between Black and Asian communities and the police have never been a good one – for decades…”
Tré Ventour (Interviewed 2018)
Cynthia described feeling safer when there was a police presence at a local Holocaust Memorial Event that the National Front turned up to. “We’ve had people [racists] come in and be a bit difficult in the Inter-Faith Group, but nothing that you could really pin down, and at a Holocaust Memorial [event], we had the National Front turn up, as well. On the Sunday morning for the service, but they stood back and actually, the police were present, I remember…. They were able to keep an eye on things.”
Cynthia Bailey (Interviewed 27 November 2018)
Shashi had a more positive perception of the local police. “One of the things I feel, I think is, police have a role to play and I think, in my opinion again, police have done an excellent job over the last few years. There’s still room to manoeuvre but anything of a racist attitude, they will stamp on it. There are some lovely Officers who will not tolerate any racism and I think the minority community, as I said, first of all, live cohesively amongst themselves but working with these other agencies.”
Shashi Dholakia (Interviewed 12 April 2017)
Vinod explained how being part of a Police Monitoring Group in Wellingborough has improved confidence and communications between the police and Wellingborough’s residents. “It’s an Independent Advisory Group to the police. We meet them every two months and we show our concerns. I’ve been a member for the last 12 years. It used to be a Northamptonshire one and now the last Police Commissioner said, because we got so much diversity in Wellingborough, we’ll have a separate group in Wellingborough. We formed, since two years, we formed a new group. The police do come and attend the meetings and they do take our advice and we work very closely. We are a critical friend of the police…
But that also helps in sort of Race relations and relationships with other communities, so they are all together and we meet at Victoria Centre, here in Wellingborough. Since two years, it’s worked very well. The PCC, the Police [Crime] Commissioner knows about it and he’s also very concerned [about racist incidents] and he listens to us. And in fact, two weeks ago he came to see us here with his guys in the police. So we can relate our concerns and things to them, and they can then do something about it.
We are monitoring. We encourage people to report Hate Crimes and the lady in charge of Hate Crime – Because they have removed the Hate Crime Division completely out of the police. There is none at the moment. They removed it, I think, last year. So now the lady in charge of community engagement used to be a Police Inspector here in Wellingborough, she’s in charge. We know her very well and we talk to her all the time and we started recording all the Hate Crimes to her.”
Vinod Dattani (Interviewed 09 May 2017)