In Defence of the Police | Dr Rakib Ehsan

The killing of a long-serving police officer in a London police station will serve as a watershed moment for Britain.

Taking place in Croydon, the killing follows recent news that amid the wave of “largely peaceful” demonstrations and unlicensed music events, there has been a 40 per cent increase in assaults on London’s police officers, under lockdown. This has included police officers being coughed at and spat on during the most severe periods of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most worrying features of 2020 is the normalisation of violence towards Britain’s police officers – especially those on duty in London, where there has been a notable rise in crime when compared with the rest of the country.

One of the villains in all of this, is the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Essentially London’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Khan has been spectacularly relaxed over rising levels of violence towards police officers in the capital. Even today, when commenting on the killing of one of his own police officers in a police station, Khan meekly described it as a ‘tragic incident’.

But arguably the most astonishing takes came from one of Croydon’s local religious leaders, Reverend Catherine Tucker of the Holy Saviour Church. Offering her thoughts on the killing, Rev’d. Tucker said: “the action taken against the police is really unacceptable but I also feel sorry for the perpetrator”. Forgive me if I come across as a tad uncompromising – but feeling sorry for the killer of a long-serving police officer who was on the verge of retirement, only serves as further confirmation that the Church of England is very much in free fall.

As I said in today’s TalkRadio interview with Mike Graham, it is time for mainstream politicians to develop a backbone and robustly push back on aggressively anti-police narratives. This includes the vilification of the police and accusations of systemic racism in policing.

These allegations are simply not rooted in reality. The most recent Crime Survey for England & Wales showed that when compared with white Brits, people of Bangladeshi, Indian, and Black African are more likely to have confidence in their local police. A July 2020 survey commissioned by Hope Not Hate, found that 64 per cent of ethnic-minority people felt that the police were a force for good on the whole. This tapped into the mainstream non-white view that problems with racism were down to a select number of individuals – in other words, a few “rotten apples”.

Police forces, like all public institutions, are flawed. Indeed, public institutions across the land will contain racist individuals, and the challenge for wider society is to minimise their impact and influence.

This should never detract from the reality that the overwhelming majority of Britain’s police officers are fair civic-minded individuals and solely focused on maximising the safety and security of local communities. They put their neck on the line, entering high-risk and deeply pressurised situations on a regular basis – especially in places such as inner London.

Those guilty of peddling aggressively anti-police narratives, would do well to remember the immense sacrifices made by British police officers in the line of duty. And those in positions of power and influence should focus less on encouraging police officers to indulge in virtue-signalling initiatives, and concentrate more on ensuring that they are as well protected as possible.

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. Twitter: @rakibehsan

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