THE FOLLOWING WAS SENT AS A REPLY TO MY BLOG ‘STANDING OUTSIDE THE FIRE’. I THOUGHT IT SO HONEST AND THOUGHT PROVOKING THAT I ASKED THE AUTHOR IF THEY WOULD ALLOW ME TO POST IT AS A GUEST BLOG. THE AUTHOR IS VERY NERVOUS ABOUT THE POSSIBLE RESPONSE BUT I THINK THEY DON’T NEED TO WORRY! I HOPE THE FOLLOWING WORDS MAKE POLICE OF ALL RANKS THINK ABOUT HOW THEY ARE SEEN BY THE PUBLIC AND THAT TRUSTING INDIVIDUALS TO SPEAK IN THEIR OWN WORDS DOES HAVE A HUGE POSITIVE IMPACT.
I saw police racism first hand in the 80’s (I look like a sheet of paper, it wasn’t directed at me, but it was disgusting) and also saw the crushing of the miners on the telly.
In 2005 I watched as the facts of the Stockwell tube shooting became clearer – and saw the lies told in the aftermath hauled shrieking into the light – That was a shatterer of faith if ever there was one.
I have also been known to go on the occasional protest march. I was at G20 in that capacity and the ‘it was all the protesters fault’ line from the official side before video evidence turned up was a clear sign that not enough was learned from Stockwell. Nowhere near enough.
I’m not very happy to be saying these things, because I know they might hurt people I have come to like very much, but the point is, if I were a character from the pages of the Daily Mail, I would hate the police.
There are a few reasons I don’t. The sea-change in race relations is one. What I saw and heard in the 80s was so in-your-face Alf Garnett that I suspect many younger folk wouldn’t believe me if I told the yarn to them. Things have changed a hell of a lot and that fact alone has given me faith in the Force to change for the better. The apparent real will to tackle internal faults is rare and I respect it.
Another reason I don’t hate the police – a major reason – are the blogs and tweets I have read from officers who were not going through any official filter. Things like tweets from the beat are all very nice, but they’re not the whole truth and one can’t help but be very aware of it while reading them.
Those other blogs and tweets, though – they’re truth. Sometimes raw, sometimes painful and sometimes annoying – but they’re honest and that makes them valuable. I have learned how desperately grim the job can be, not just on occasion, but on a regular basis. I’ve seen the colossal amount of abuse officers have to soak up. I have learned that, for all its faults, the force is invaluable to society in many ways that have nothing to do with keeping crime low. I learned that most men and women in the force are regularly making physical and mental sacrifices for good of society as a whole. Also, the humanity and the humour behind the uniform has shone through it all.
Social media is a space where everyone, MP, copper, office drone, NEET can get together and talk. Communication is the root of understanding. Lies and half-truths are usually quickly revealed for what they are. While I understand the need for police officers not to be cheerleaders for particular political parties, I believe it is absolutely vital that they be allowed to speak about their work, society in general and political changes that will damage one of the most important social glues we have.
The recent interaction between public and police during the olympics has shown that we can get along swimmingly if we’re given the right opportunities to do so. To talk to each other. Learn about each other. It’s easy to hate a faceless mass. It’s much harder to be unfair towards people you have conversed honestly with.