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Black ex-Met police chief: relations with black community keep deteriorating

Rod Charles, former Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector and currently a Police Trainer, Researcher and Risk Consultant Author of “Policing with Difference” said that, although some individual police officers are doing a good job, the actions of officers behaving in a “reprehensible” way means the gulf between the police and the black community continues to increase.

“Police need to focus on crime and criminals, not on aligning types of people to types of crime,” he said. “That’s how you end up with stereotyping. Policing needs to be intelligence-led, not going into communities to identify people who fit a stereotype.”

Rod Charles, great-uncle of Rashan Charles, who died after being chased by police. Image credit Martin Godwin/The Guardian

He warned that the impact of deteriorating relations, relations that Charles believes are worse than the situation in the 1970s and 80s, will have a lasting impact.

“I don’t think we’re anywhere near the bottom yet. We still have a long way to go. The effects of poor decision making by the police won’t just lose us a few months or a few years, it will lose us a generation and there are some parts of the community who are lost who I don’t think we will be able to get back.”

He added: “We are stereotyping the community wholesale. We do not want to alienate hundreds of thousands of black people simply because they share the same pigment. If we had genuinely intelligence-led policing rates of stop and search would plummet.”

The former Met Police Chief expressed particular concern about the actions of the Met’s Territorial Support Group, which has been involved in recent Tasering incidents.

While in the case of George Floyd protests and movement called out immediately for social justice and equality among society and countries, incidents like this most of the time pass silently within the mainstream media in the UK.

Charles condemned the actions of the TSG in an incident in May involving 24-year-old Jordan Walker-Brown, who said he had his back to the police and was running away when he was tasered.

Image credit Policing Insight

He fell from a wall and has been left paralysed. He said he was running from the police because he was carrying a small amount of cannabis and believes he would not have been stopped if he was not black.

“The TSG, like its predecessor the SPG (Special Patrol Group) should be disbanded. It is tainted. Where people are using violence that is dangerous, I stand with police officers when they take action. But the cases I’m concerned about are where individuals are not threatening police officers or using force against police officers. If a person is running away you should not be Tasering them.”

Charles said people should not end up dead, as in Rashan Charles’s case or paralysed as in Walker-Brown’s case, for the type of offence of which they were suspected.

“I was a former TSG officer. It is an exceptionally needed cadre. But if these units attract such negative attention, we will have to go back to the drawing board for a successor.”

He also deeply criticised the attitude of the police as hostile and defensive and taking a “batten down the hatches” approach.

“We need to do something to recover ground and restore confidence. Police need to accept feedback, engage more and be less intransigent.”

When will we be able to see a real change and concrete steps forward?


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