Part 2c – Police & Community Relations (The Scarman Report – Summary & Findings)

Thank you for your continued interest into this staged Blog. I have had a period of being busy at work and at home but I am back.

In my three Blogs I covered the Inquiry lead by Lord Scarman into the Brixtion Riots in 1981. They can be found here and if you are a first time reader I recommend that you read these two previous posts before reading on.

Part 1 –

Part 2a –

Part 2b –

Lord Scarman is the final part of his report made a number of findings and recommendations and I will go through them now.

Summary Of Findings

Social Conditions

  • Brixton has many features of a decaying inner city area.
  • Brixton as a community had a larger than national average of black people.
  • Black residents were subjected to harder discrimination in education, and employment and this discrimination was not shared by their white counterparts.
  • Although social conditions were poor this was not an excuse to riot and that the residents of Brixton who had good reason to be frustrated were wrong to riot.

The Disorders 10th April 1981

  • The first set of disorder followed after incorect rumours about an injured black youth who had been stabbed. It was found that the actions of the officers were reasonable and that they could not have dealt with that situation differently.
  • The disorder on the 10th of April was spontaneous and although community tension was high the disorder could not have been predicted.
  • The Police response to the disorder was appropriate to the circumstances.
  • The Borough Commander following the disorder on the 10th of April made a poor decision to continue with Operation Swamp 81 that night. Tensions were very high and Swamp 81’s continued operation did nothing to help resolve this tension, in fact it made things worse.

The Disorders Of 11th of April 1981

  • Following the disorders of the day before there were a large amount of young people on the streets spoiling for a row. This was as a result of their frustrations and beliefs.
  • The disorders of the 11th of April were sparked by a stop and search of a black taxi driver by two white plain clothed officers who thought they had witnessed the man conceal items within his sock. The search revealed that this was cash that the taxi driver had made lawfully. Having been searched and providing this reasonable explanation the two officers went on to search the taxi for drugs and this angered nearby people.
  • The actions of the two Police Officers was not unlawful however they failed to use discretion and having heard a reasonable and believable excuse for possessing the cash the following search of the taxi was not completely necessary although not unlawful.

The Disorders of the 12th of April 1981

  • The disorders of the 12th of April 1981 were alot shorter and less widespread and were a tail off of the disorders the day before.

The Disorders – The Conclusion

  • The riots were not predetermined. They were a spontaneous reaction to what was seen as Police harassment.
  • During the riots an element of riot leadership emerged.
  • Black people started the riots as a result of Police harassment. White people joined black people to riot.
  • Petrol bombs were used for the first time ever on English soil. Evidence proves that it was white people who were assisting black people with the preparation and supply of the petrol bombs.
  • Lord Scarman concluded that “the disorders were communal disturbances arising from a complex political, social and economic situation, which is not special to Brixton. There was a strong racial element in the disorders; but they were not a race riot. The riots were essentially an outburst of anger and resentment by young back people against the Police”.

Police and Community Relations

  • A major cause of the hostility of young black people towards the Police was a loss in confidence by significant sections, though not all of the Lambeth public in the Police.
  • The loss of confidence in the Police was caused by the collapse of the Police Liaison Committee, hard policing methods, distrust in the police complaints procedure and racial prejudice by some officers.
  • The report released by the Working Party employed by the local Council worsened relations between the Police and the community, although it has been acknowledged that the report accurately reflected attitudes, beliefs and feelings.
  • The disorder happened for a number of reasons and due to this both the Police and the Community must accept a share of the blame fr the breakdown in relations.
  • The policies of the Met Police were not racist however racial prejudice occasionally manifested itself in behaviour of few officers.
  • It was also recognised that police harassment did in fact occur.

The Police Operation – The Disorders

  • The Met Police recognised the need for good community relations and this was demonstrated by the actions of the Borough Commanders in his attempts to restore links with the Police Liaison Committee.
  • The Police did not over react to the disorders. On the Saturday night the Police were put in a fight or flight situation and they were right not to withdraw on the Saturday night when the disorder was at its most fierce.
  • The Brixton riots revealed a weakness in the police capacity to respond firmly to violence.
  • The delay in dealing with looting was not due to reluctance, it was down to limited police resources.
  • The Police response to the disorders should be praised and not criticised.


Lord Scarman having reviewed the riot causes made a number of recommendations for change to prevent future incidents of rioting.


  • The Police operate in a growing multi cultural society and as such the police service should represent that community. Therefore the police need to do more to recruit black people into the service.
  • Recruitment standards are high as to attract high calibre applicants. Black people tend to be poorly educated and it was recommended that recruitment standards are not lowered but that black applicants should be given special extra training to assist them to achieve the recruitment standards.
  • Opportunities should be explored to increase opportunities for black people in the police cadet scheme and the Special Constabulary.
  • The Police need to improve methods of weeding out racist applicants to prevent them being employed.


  • Basic training of all recruits should be extended to a minimum of six months to enable recruits to be better prepared for policing in a multi cultural society.
  • Every police officer should be given training in Diversity and Public Order tactics (both prevention and the handling of public order).
  • All police officers should be trained in Conflict Management skills that shall be used in their day to day duties when performing things such as stop and search.
  • Having been educated in Diversity as part of basic training recruits should complete a Street Duties Course where they practice their skills in dealing with different members of society. This should be done under the supervision of a tutor.
  • Every recruit should undertake part of if not all their probationary period working in a multi cultural area such as Brixton under a tutor constable.


  • All Sergeants and Inspectors should be trained to monitor stop and search patterns / officer behaviour to identify and challenge racist behaviour or trends.


  • Racial, prejudice and discriminatory behaviour should be made a specific offence in the Police Disciplinary Code.
  • A belief should be enforced that a breach of the above offence SHALL lead to dismissal from the service.

Law Reform

Lord Scarman made a number of recommendations for changes to law. I will not detail all of them but I strongly recommend that if you get the opportunity that you read the Scarman Report to understand it.

  • Lord Scarman found unquestionable evidence of unfair stop and search being used on black people. He called for the Sus Law to be abolished and replaced with new legislation.
  • Concerns were raised regarding the questioning and detention of people in police custody. Scarman recommended that independent inspectors be allowed access to police custody centres to conduct random inspections. This gave birth to the modern day Independent Custody Visitors we have today.
  • The riots of 1981 and the various recommendations made by Lord Scarman gave the foundations for the launch of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984. This legislation introduced new rules covering stop and search and other things such as the questioning and detention of people in police custody.

Social Reform

  • I am not going to go into the social reform recommendations but in short they covered improvements to housing and leisure facilities and other things such as building in crime prevention measures as part of new housing developments etc.
  • I recommend reading Lord Scarmans report to see the list of recommendations in this field.

Over the last few Blogs I have covered the causes of the Brixton Riots of 1981. I have covered some of the main points raised and my plan from here is to look into the London 2011 riots and attempt to look for similarities into their causes and the causes back in 1981.

This Blog has been a large one hence breaking it into easier to read stages. I would again like to thank you for your continued interest and if you have any questions I will do my level best to answer them. Just add your question to the comments section of this Blog and I will reply.

Thanks – Sir Robert


Increasing Demand On Special Constable – Peels Review

It is no secret that every force is currently struggling to deal with budget cuts inflicted on them by Government. Only this week the media has been full of reports stating that we have as many as 10,000 less Police Officers on the street since this Government came to power. Forces are looking at collaboration projects with neighbouring forces, staff posts are being cut and morale is low. Forces all over are desperately looking at ways to plug the gap.

Having had a chat with a Twitter follower who is a serving Special Constable. It was clear in that chat that the demand on the Special Constable is increasing significantly and I felt the need to look into this. I uncovered some interesting things. I have found this Special Constable recruitment video that I want you to watch before I continue.

Looks and sounds interesting doesn’t it! Volunteering your spare time to support your community by putting on a uniform to protect others. I have a massive amount of respect to every Special Constable who gives their time to support policing in this way.

Special Constables like their regular counterparts have the same policing powers, wear the same uniform, carry the same equipment and operate within the same guidelines in terms of dealing with incidents. They take an Oath in front of a Magistrate and have a 24hr duty to the public, as does a regular officer. The only difference being that the Special is not paid a salary. They are paid out of pocket expenses to cover their travel etc and some may also have other benefits such as a reduction in Council Tax. The regular officer will work a shift pattern and the Special will work a minimum of 16 hours a month, although many work many more than this. I have heard of some Specials working up to 100 hours a month. Specials work when they can spare the time.

Police recruitment is now very rare, if it happens at all. A Police Officer cannot be made redundant so many forces are relying on natural shrinkage. Officers retire, transfer or leave and they are not replaced. Politicians keep saying that the “front line” is being protected. I find this claim hard to swallow when at work everyday I see less  people out on the street. Pcso’s are being deployed to incidents that a warranted Constable should be at and on the occassions where a Special is working they are battered from pillar to post in the same way as a regular.

With a decline in regular officer numbers I was not at all surprised to learn this week that there has been a 10% increase in the recruitment of Specials. In my force area they are recruiting them aggressively ad have been holding many recruitment events with a view to increasing the numbers. The same cannot be said for regulars.

What is very clear is that the recruitment of regular Constables is now mainly done from within a forces existing Specials and Pcso’s. Performing one of these two roles is now seen by many as “the only way to get in”. Personally I can see some logic in this.

  • I know of many people who have joined the Police from outside of the service who have been trained and have then left during their probation as the job is not as they first thought. Serving as a Special will certainly give you that look into the role and the responsibility, and more importantly the darker side of the role such as the paperwork that is associated with it. That will save forces millions across the UK.
  • The Pcso looking to be a Constable will not have as much insight into the role however in most cases the Pcso will have a broader range of problem solving skills as they will have faced a range of policing situations that they have had to resolve without the full powers of a Constable. This problem solving skill will benefit them in the long run.
  • Both roles will have made applicants develop their customer service skills within a policing environment which will put them streets ahead of the normal applicant.
  • In theory Specials and Pcso’s who are recruited into their home forces would not need educating in certain things such as computer systems and other similar matters which SHOULD mean it is easier to get a recruit onto the street quicker but knowing the job as it is forces still waste money by teaching you how to suck eggs.

I have spoken with a number of people on the issue of the increased demand being placed on Special Constables. I am not going to start naming forces but I am hearing many similar things but one thing is for SURE and that is Specials ARE being pulled in to plug the gap left by a reduction is regular officers.

I am aware of one force that uses their Specials across a wide spectrum. The force in particular made 52 requests for Specials to work on specific shifts / operations. I will add that these requests were to cover tasks over a four month period. 52 requests is an awful lot and knowing this it is easy to see how there is more pressure being placed on the Special to fill a gap. Within the same force area operations that have always been performed by teams of regular officers have been replaced with teams of Specials who complete this task without the salary of the regulars! Whilst I am not doubting the ability of the Specials to complete the operation to the same standard as the regulars what this shows is that the Special IS being used to REPLACE the regular NOT support them.

I have also heard of Specials being asked to work on days when “there are not enough regulars working as they are short”. One force sent such an email asking to cover over a Bank Holiday when their regular counterparts were being paid DOUBLE time. Personally I think that is a complete outrage!! What an insult.

I was very pleased to speak with a Special Constabulary Commanding Officer who I shall not name. That officer told me that they have had a number of requests asking for Specials to fill in on response teams. This officer quite rightly denied these requests whilst reminding the people asking that the Special is there to SUPPORT not REPLACE. Yesterday I read a report about Avon and Somerset Police who are becoming dependant on Specials

I know of some very very capable Specials who will book on duty and hit the road single crewed like the regulars do and will attend whatever job they are sent to. They deal with the job to the same standards as the regular would, complete all the paperwork etc without assistance and again to the high standard of the regular and will actively make as many as 5 arrests in a month. They are not frightened to say if they are asked to perform a task outside of their skill level and to be honest that is brilliant as they can work with minimal supervision ad can be left to get on with it.

The above however is quite rare and by that alot of Specials do not have that experience and ability. That was not meant to sound disrespectful and I will add by saying that the Special does not have the same length of training as the regular and for that reason it is unfair to expect them to operate to the same standards. On the job training takes longer due to the reduced number of operational policing hours worked and with constantly changing policies and procedures it is very easy for the Special to get lost.

Specials have their normal day job. recession is hitting and people are working longer hours to cover bills and other financial issues. Times are hard and I have heard of Specials who have quite simply said “stuff it” to the Special Constabulary as they do not need the extra hassle of constantly being asked to do extra. One went as far as to say that when he joined he was called a “hobby bobby”. He gave it up when the role became more of a second job than a “hobby”.

Peels View

The Special Constabulary officers of the UK are by their title special people. They give up their free time to support their communities by policing. Forces are experiencing severe financial pressure and are being forced to make harsh cuts. The Government are maintaining that the “front line” is being protected although you only have to look at Twitter to hear stories that strongly contradict that claim. Specials are a very valuable tool to forces and were introduced to SUPPORT regular officers and not to REPLACE them. Specials have varied skills and ability and it is not fair that forces are putting pressure on them to cover tasks that have always been performed by their regular counterparts who have been removed due to budgets. I have a passion for policing and will always do my best to support my community. As much as it pains me to say it but I think the Specials of the UK should stick to their guns and stand firm. Do not feel under pressure to step in and if things go uncovered then maybe just maybe the Government will be forced to admit that their cuts ARE effecting the frontline.

As always thank you for reading and feel free to debate away.

Conflict Management – Police Use of Taser

I do not need to remind you of the dangers that police officers these days face. Once upon a time the traditional Constable in their tunic and wooden peg as is was called was enough to put the fear of god into anyone, however today is another story. Before I get into this post have a look at this short video. Whilst watching it I want you to take note of the use of a wheelie bin and think about the incident without that bin.

Frightening stuff hey! Police Officers carry a belt or tactical vest that carries their radio, handcuffs, baton, defence spray and in some cases leg restraints. All officers are educated on what is known as the National Decision Making Model. This model teaches officers about things to consider in regard to use of force. I am not going to go into the  National Decision Making Model so I suggest you look it up if you want further details.

The video that you saw clearly involved a dangerous man armed with a massive knife. He was clearly under the influence of drugs or something else and was taking swings at officers clearly with the intent to cause harm. I accept that the man may have had some mental health issues but that needs to be put to the side for the time being. Although this needs to be considered the first priority in this incident is to disarm the clearly dangerous man. Clearly offences have been committed but we must also consider the fear of crime to other members of the public. Imagine walking past this in the street with your children, would you feel safe?

The first tool that a Police Officer has in their conflict management box is their voice. In all conflict situations this is the first tool to be used. It maybe a fight outside of a nightclub or a gun man threatening hostages, in all cases the voice will be used. When that fails you have other things such as a push or shove, a strike or kick but that clearly would not work in the video you have just seen. You would end up being seriously hurt.

So what is the next option? I will tell you. It is the defence spray that is a spray that is discharged into the face of an offender. This spray causes the eyes to be forced shut so that an offender cannot see and at the same time they experience a stinging sensation. There are different sprays available so I will not go into the mechanics of its content as this will vary. All sprays have the same effect and this video demonstrates how it works.

Note how the man in the video is fighting and then after being sprayed is alot easier to deal with. Words clearly in this situation did not work and as the man was fighting to escape officers were forced to spray him to prevent his escape and injury to themselves.  Lawful? Yes it is.

Now going back to the first video. To spray someone you must first get close enough to them, something that in the first video was a massive risk, however (correct me if you know otherwise) I believe that knife man had been sprayed but was still being violent. So what would you do? You may consider the baton but what effect did that have in the video when the officer with the bin batoned him. The knife man got more angry and started chasing officers around like school children playing kiss chase.

In days gone by the only option would have been to consider lethal force. Remember I said about considering things like mental health. Is it fair to shoot someone dead due to an illness? Yes it may have come to that but shooting someone dead is a big step from hitting them with a steel baton. With an increase in violence on the street Police needed a tool top bring that gap between the baton and lethal force. In comes the launch of Taser.

The Taser was designed to deliver a burst of electric shock via two cables that are discharged from the end of the weapon. This charge causes a temporary shut down of the nervous system causing a violent subject to fall to the floor. The recovery time is less than a minute in which time officers can apply Taser aftercare and remove any weapons from a violent person such as the man in the first video. Much better than shooting someone dead in my opinion.

The Taser was designed to fill the gap in the  National Decision Making Model as ultimately the subject being Tasered lives after the event. With conventional firearms they would highly likely end up dead which is not fair if the violent outburst is as a result of a mental health outburst or similar. Its better that a person needing professional help for things such as mental health is given that help rather than being shot and killed.

Taser does have its risks and can lead to temporary health complaints that are alot shorter than healing of a broken bone from a baton strike etc. If you went into cardiac arrest a Paramedic would shock you back into life with electric so Taser needs to be considered carefully as does any use of force. Spray someone and they could fall and hit their head (although you should if possible try to catch them), hit someone with a baton and they could be injured or have bones broken, and firearms – well that speaks for itself.

As yet Taser is not standard issue Police equipment however in my opinion with violence against police increasing and things such as single crewing I think it will come. Currently only selected officers carry Taser and they are called to assist the unarmed officers when needed. In the first video 30 officers were deployed and none had Taser. Where I work you wont have thirty officers on the Division so if that happened to me I would be well and truly stuffed unless in the unlikely event there was a Taser officer in the next street who could arrive within seconds.

In my force area Taser use must be pre authorised and that is done as follows.

  1. Police receive a call from a member of public reporting a fight for argument sake where someone is seen brandishing a knife in the street and making threats.
  2. The call taker will ask details of the weapon, what threats have been made etc whilst the log is being reviewed by the force control room Inspector.
  3. The Inspector having considered the National Decision Making Model  decides that there is a serious risk to the public and police officers who will attend so they authorise Taser use should it be necessary at the scene. Remember the officers will always try to engage the suspect first with voice etc before Taser. They will have to justify their actions in court.
  4. Once authorised the Inspector endorses the log with the justification for authorising Taser.
  5. The police officers arrive at the scene and are confronted with the man in the first video. They try to reason with the man without success and eventually Taser is discharged.

The only exception to this policy is when on arrival at any incident (without pre authorisation) the officer is faced with immediate violence such as a knife man attacking them and it is not possible to seek authorisation they may (when justified) draw Taser without permission. This policy I believe varies from force to force but I can only comment on my home force.

Taser has mixed views amongst the community. Many think it is good and many think it is bad. The thing I struggle to get my head around is everyone knows that it will hurt them and how they work so when one is pointed at them why do they continue to behave in a violent way? Memory effected by drink , drugs or mental health may explain some of it but I have seen people who are sober and fully with it who still resist.

I have however seen myself on UK  TV shows one or two incidents of Taser being drawn and threatened in incidents that to be perfectly blunt are completely unneccessary and where had Taser actually been deployed I would not have liked to have been that officer at the court hearing or complaint hearing! I will not name the force but on one TV program I saw two officers with a handcuffed prisoner who was not engaged in a full on fight with the officers put pulling away from them. A friend of the handcuffed man walked over to try to but in and rather than one officer breaking away to deal with the friend he drew his Taser and screamed at the man to get back or he would be Tasered. I could not believe my eyes! This was completely over the top and not necessary and is probably the typical kind of case that lawyer Sophie Khan deals with.

For me the Taser is a very important link in the National Decision Making Model . It bridges that gap between the baton and the normal firearm that has an almost certain risk of death when used. Taser should be used in the most serious incidents but I do disagree with some of the claims made by anti Taser believers. Many compare the use of Taser against officers in the US and I must say that having watched some American cop TV shows I must agree that their use is somewhat excessive and can never become a reality on the streets of the UK.

The Taser is a weapon to save life and whenever it is used there is obviously a risk to the person being subjected to the force however what the public must realise is that this force will be as a result of their actions. Put the weapon down and you wont be Tasered. My force has a good Taser policy and thankfully Taser deployments are a rare event.

Thank you for reading and I am sure this post will cause some healthy debate. In that event please respect each others views.

Part 2b – Police and Community Relations (Scarman Report cont)

I have written two Blogs so far on the relationship between the Police and the Community. I started with the Brixton Riots of 1981 and what happened. This can be viewed by clicking this link 

I continued with examining the report into the cause of the riots that had been written by Lord Scarman. This is a very comprehensive report and to be honest at the time I did not know how big a task it was going to be. For that reason I will be releasing two further Blogs on the Scarman Report that will cover Lord Scarman’s Conclusions and Recommendations to prevent further disorder.

In my last Blog I looked at the problems that Lord Scarman had uncovered and this Blog is a continuation of that. Part 2a on the same subject can be found here

The section of the Scarman Report that i am now going to cover concerns the faults of the Police and the problems that the Police faced.

Police Faults

Lord Scarman as a result of evidence heard discovered the following:

  • The hostility within the community was caused by a loss of confidence in the police by significant sections of the community.
  • There were several complaints made against the police, many of which were not acted upon or investigated. There were a number of MP’s who believed that many complaints against the police could be justified.
  • The attitude towards police provided the “tinder ready to blaze into violence” indicating that the signs were there.
  • Also uncovered was was a loss of confidence and poor attitude gave rise to a serious breakdown in relations between the police and the community – I will be covering this a little more shortly.
  • Police harassment did occur and enabled a myth of police brutality and racism to develop.

The Police had many faults and there is no hiding from that fact. The Police however also had some big problems that they needed to overcome which will be covered shortly. We have already heard some of the causes into the riots such as housing and high unemployment and although these issues are outside of police responsibility you will see that the police did fail to adapt their policing approach to the community that they served.

The Policing Problem

  • In 1980 the amount of crimes recorded in the Lambeth Borough was 30,805. The Brixton Division was responsible for 10,626 of those crimes.
  • Between 1976 and 1980 Brixton accounted for 35% of all crimes on the Borough, but 49% of all Robbery and Violent Theft offences.
  • The police recognised that there was a problem and that they needed a solution to a growing crime trend. Robbery and violent crime was on the increase and this can probably be related to high unemployment and people with no or little money.
  • A disproportionate amount of crime was committed by black people. – Remember the video on my first Blog where the now retired Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick (a Sergeant at the time) spoke of the criminality associated with being black?
  • In 1979 the then Commander of the area Commander Adams had launched a very successful community project on the Stockwell Park Estate that did reduce crime and build links. This project however did not last as hostility and suspicion existed between the public and the police. Later in 1979 circumstance outside of Commander Adams control occurred and this helped to push the community further away.
  • Commander Adams was worried about the increase in crime in Brixton and in 1980 he was successful in a bid to obtain more staff from neighbouring areas. This contributed to an increase of police on the streets which caused further tension.

  • Due to increasing crime Commander Adams organised a series of operations on the streets of Brixton by utilising the Special Patrol Group. During these operations crime would reduce but would soon increase again when the operations ended.
  • These policing operations caused further hostility on the streets and black people felt that they were being “hunted” irrespective of their guilt or innocence.
  • The operations turned older members of the community against the police as they heard stories from younger members of the community. These stories also helped in the breakdown of formal agreements between the police and community leaders.
  • Commander Adams met with local community leaders to discuss a new two way open approach between the police and the community. A Special Patrol Group operation had been planned for a few days time after this meeting however Commander Adams did not tell the community leaders about it due to fears that telling them would reduce its effectiveness. When the operation started the community leaders were far from happy and made the community leaders not trust the police.
  • On the 12th of February 1979 three members of staff from community liaison team were arrested on suspicion of assaulting undercover police. This action lead to an emergency meeting by the Executive Committee of the CCRL which resulted in them withdrawing from the Liaison Committee with the Police. They also withdrew their open offer of the Community Liason Police officers attending their meetings.
  • What followed after this meeting was a series of unofficial community meetings with the police and those community members who had disagreed with the withdrawal action.

  • In January 1981 the Working Party released a report into the relations between the Police and the Community. This report had been commissioned by the Council and the Met refused to engage in it as they suspected that the report would not be impartial. As it turned out the report was highly critical of the Police and contained quotes such as, “Police are army of occupation” and that SPG ops were “Attack by the SPG on the people of Lambeth”.
  • The report said that the Police would harass working class people and black people in particular.
  • It also criticised stop and search and said that it was a misuse of the law.
  • Other areas such as community projects operated by the police were criticised.
  • Lord Scarman was in no doubt that report worsened the relationship between the police and the community.
  • On the 1st of April 1981 the new Divisional Commander (five months into the job) had a meeting with community leaders to discuss the relaunch of the Liasion Committee however he received a letter agreeing to the relaunch that arrived four days AFTER the disorder had occurred.

Swamp 81 – The Build Up

  • Swamp 81 ran between the 6th and 12th of April 1981.
  • In the immediate days before the operation began a number of warrants had been executed in the Railton Road (The Front Line) and neighbouring streets by officers from the Robbery and Burglary squads. T^his resulted in increased tension however Swamp 81 was still conducted.
  • For the second time community leaders were not informed of the impending operation which caused further upset, however the operation in the time leading o the disorder had lead to a 50% decrease in crime.

In this Blog I have covered the faults of the police and the problems they faced. We will all agree that the police did make some very serious but easily avoided mistakes. The next section of the Scarman Report covers his Conclusions and his Recommendations. I feel that these two vital subjects that still have relevance on the policing of today warrant their own Blog post and they will follow in due course.

Once again thank you for reading and I hope you found this interesting and informative.

Part 2a – Police and Community Relations (The Scarman Report 1981)

I recently wrote a post on the Brixton Riots of 1981 and I explained that I had chosen this point in time to start with my assessment of the relationships between the Police Service and the Community that we serve. The previous Blog covered the build up to the Brixton riots and if you have not read that post you can see it by clicking the link Police & Community Relations – Part 1 – The Brixton Riots 1981

Immediately following this very violent event the Government appointed Lord Scarman to conduct a official review into the riots and their causes. Lord Scarman was also empowered with making recommendations in how to prevent further disorder in the future. The Scarman Report was released in November 1981 and made very interesting reading. This report had been compiled following a series of evidence hearings from community members, police officers and other relevant persons.

The Scarman Report is far too detailed to cover in one Blog so I have chosen to split it in half. For ease of reading I have split Lord Scarmans findings into headings.

The Violence

Lord Scarman heard a lot of evidence about the violence and established the following:

  • The riots were the most serious disorder in the history of the Met. During the disorder petrol bombs had been used for the first time ever against police on English soil. Further examination revealed that the petrol bombs had been supplied by white people who supported the cause and were being dished out from places around the neighbourhood.
  • The people rioting were mainly young black people. There was a reason for that and this will be covered more later in the Blog.
  • The violence was that intense that at times the police could only contain the rioters and were powerless to effectively deal with the violence.
  • The police were only start to deal with the violence when they became heavily reinforced.
  • Following the violence a resident described the Brixton area as looking like the “Aftermath Of An Air Raid”.

Lord Scarman then looked at the problems which contributed to the riots and found the following:

The Problems

  • The first problem was “oppressive policing over a period of years; and in particular the harassment of young blacks on the streets of Brixton”. He concluded by saying that they were anti police.
  • “The second problem is that the disorders, like so many riots in British history, were a protest against society by people deeply frustrated and deprived who saw in a violent attack upon the forces of law and order their one opportunity of compelling public attention to their grievances
  • There was a multi cultural community in a deprived inner city area where unemployment, especially among young black people is high and hopes are low.
  • There was a requirement for police to maintain law and order of a diverse community without an understanding of their needs and as such it was impossible to set standards for successful policing.
  • The police needed to understand the social problem first before they could effectively police the problems.

Lord Scarman went on to examine the problems in some more depth which is summarised below:

Brixton Social Conditions

  • Brixton was home to a number of retail outlets that included many national retail chains and local stores. Hit by recession the Brixton area had suffered a decline in trade.
  • Conditions in Brixton had declined to such a level that redevelopment plans had been discussed and from 1965 onwards plans had been made but not implemented.
  • The hot spot riot areas such as Railton Road and surrounding roads had been considered for complete refurbishment however this decision had been blocked by the then Secretary of State for Environment who favoured a phased refit program.

Housing was identified as being a major social condition that effected the people of Brixton and I am not one for statistics but the following is alarming by anyones standards.


  • At the time of the riots there was a shortage of 20,000 homes.
  • Council figures estimate that there were 12,000 homes that were overcrowded.
  • 1 or more bedrooms in Brixton homes were below the acceptable standards.
  • There were 7,000 homes that were empty which lead to squatting.
  • Figures state that as many as 12,000 homes were declared unfit for purpose by the Local Authority.
  • 8,250 homes lacked one or more basic amenities.

Lord Scarman went as far as to say “The physical environment in which the people of Brixton live and the Police have to operate is one marked by decay, and that there are in particular very serious housing problems.

The People of Brixton

  • The Borough of Lambeth had a population of around 264,000 which was a reduction of earlier figures as many people had moved away. The typical age group of those that moved away ranged between 25 and 60. This left behind a population that were either younger or older.
  • The Brixton population had a higher number of residents that were of school age and this was higher than the whole of London.
  • There were fewer people who held professional or managerial roles.
  • There was a “strikingly high” figure of children in local authority care.
  • There were twice the national average of single parent families living in the Borough.
  • There was a higher percentage of people with mental health illnesses and physical or mental handicap.


  • Lord Scarman concluded that “Disadvantage in education and employment are the two crucial facets or racial disadvantage”.
  • He also stated that without decent education a person is unlikely to find jobs they aspired to or in fact any job at all.
  • Alot of black people who were concerned about racial disadvantage had the attitude that there was no point in education when it comes to employment as they have no chance due to racial disadvantage.


  • Employers had views of black people as they saw them as having a lack of qualifications. They also saw them as bad time keepers, as having a unwillingness to travel, and in some cases as having a poor level of English.
  • Of equal importance it was suggested that it was not only employers who discriminated against black people but other employees within a company or business.
  • It was also said that discrimination existed not only in the employment field but on the street, but in schools too. (My first Blog shows proof of that).

Lord Scarman made several conclusions however at this stage I will be sharing the following ones. I will be honest and tell you that I am still researching this report. I have realised that one Blog will not cover this entire subject hence splitting it into two. The second half will follow in due course.

Lord Scarmans Conclusions

  • Social circumstances were very poor however this was not an excuse to riot.
  • Lambeth Council were aware of the social problems and had launched a program to promote equal opportunities and to combat racial disadvantage. In 1978 they had formed a Race Relations Unit who were charged with the mentioned task.
  • Following the riots Lambeth Council had made steps to improve housing allocations.
  • Lambeth Council following the riots had been granted £9 million pounds from Central Government to make improvements to the neighbourhood.
  • The black people tended to reside in deprived areas of the City.
  • Black people were desperate for equality with their white counterparts.
  • Black people were not politically secure. There were no black MP’s or Councillors and this was a problem for the community.

I have enjoyed researching this subject so far. I will be honest and say that I had heard of the riots back in 1981 but it is only until now that I have begun to understand why they happened. I am sure that we will all agree that the Police were a major factor in these riots but were not fully to blame. The Police had no control over housing and education or the fact that the country was in recession, however their policing approach was extremely unfair and in my last Blog a then serving Met Police Constable openly admitted how they would target black people.

The Police cannot police without co operation of the public and what I am trying to achieve through this staged Blog is to highlight the importance of how this relationship is.  If I had my way then every new Constable, Special and Pcso would have to study the Scarman Report. This report was written back in 1981 but as this Blog progresses you will see that many of the things Scarman spoke about are evident today and it would appear that we in some areas have learned NOTHING!

As ever I value your feedback and thank you for reading.

Pc Simon Harwood – Peels View

I have written this post following the court result in the Ian Tomlinson case.

If you do not know what case I am talking about it is a trial that ended this week after a police officer named Simon Harwood was filmed hitting a man with a baton and pushing him to the floor. A short while later that man who was called Ian Tomlinson died.

This case has obviously attracted massive media interest. I have mixed views of the media but experience has proven that the media will write anything to sell a paper or make a story even if that means bending the truth, adding or taking away vital facts or even telling the occasional lie. This claim is made from personal experience. I ask you to bear this in mind whilst reading this post.

Any loss of life is tragic and I do feel for the family of Ian Tomlinson. At the same time I do feel that the media have successfully done their bit to stir the pot in what seems a constant lets make the police look bad again attitude.

Tomlinson died during the G20 protests. The first Post Mortem concluded he had died of natural causes through a heart attack. This post mortem being carried out two days after the death.

Four days after the death the attached video was released by The Guardian newspaper.

This short clip shows Pc Harwood shove Tomlinson as he appeared to be walking off with his hands in his pockets. This video prompted an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Further post mortems concluded that Tomlinson had died as a result of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma to the abdomen in association with Cirrhosis of the liver. Tomlinson is reported to have been an alcoholic which would lead to Cirrhosis of the liver.

The CPS refused to bring criminal charges against Pc Harwood due to the conflicting post mortems. One of the post mortems must be incorrect but which one? This decision was reversed when an Inquest made a verdict of unlawful killing and this is how Pc Harwood ended up in the dock.

The criminal case concluded this week with Pc Harwood being found not guilty. Since this verdict there has been lots of media coverage but from what I hear this would appear to be very one sided and targeted at Pc Harwood and the police.

Police use of force has always been a sensitive issue. I hear people everyday complaining about it. They do it having been arrested or after seeing a snap shot of a incident in the street where they have not see what happened in the period leading up to that force. That said I do disagree with the actions of Pc Harwood in that short video. Tomlinson was walking off and had his hands in his pockets. At that precise point Tomlinson was no threat and in my opinion that incident of force was unlawful. However had Tomlinson at that exact point been trying to push past the line that Harwood was in then yes a shove may have been justified.

However I do not believe the complete picture was shown in that video. The honest media must not have been given footage of the build up to that shove which may show the public why It happened in the first place! Why would the media show this build up? It wont sell papers or attract viewers will it?  BUT showing the police at fault will.

There is lots of coverage of this case in the papers and again I believe this is completely one sided. For example I have been told that during the trial Tomlinson was said to have been drunk and abusive to police. He is said to have been trying to break through police lines and in this instance a shove MAY have been justified. However I have not seen ONE media source reporting that information! I can only conclude that every journalist was on a tea break at that point in the trial!

If you are going to report on a story cover it all or do not bother! Do not pick the “juicy bits” and paint an inaccurate picture. Its not fair. Now before you say this does not happen IT DOES! I have attended incidents where a official press release as been released and when you read what the press have published you will find yourself wondering if they are writing about the same thing.

The media have however done a good thing in highlighting the complaints that have been made against Pc Harwood. Every police officer gets complaints but some of those made against Pc Harwood (if true) make him not suitable to hold the Office Of Constable.

Pc Harwood is said to have been involved in an off duty road rage incident in which he assaulted someone and then arrested them for assaulting him. Before any investigation could take place into his actions he resigned from the Met returning a few days later as a civilian member of staff.

After a year Pc Harwood joined Surrey as a Police Officer. Here a COLLEAGUE complained about his use of force. The complaint did not result in any action. Harwood then returned to the Met and he joined the TSG which is their public order unit.

Other complaints had been made against Harwood during his career. I have had complaints made against me. Its part of the job. IF the accuracy of what has been reported about Harwoods history of complaints is true then the Met seriously failed and lessons need to be learned.

The nature of complaints made against Harwood should have set off alarm bells. He should never have been allowed to rejoin the Met having dodged one investigation.

The point that I am making in this post is this. Harwood may have been in the wrong but in my opinion the media have a duty to report the truth. They should not cherry pick the bits they want. Tomlinson had his faults and yes it is tragic that he died. I feel for the family. I was not there when this tragic event happened. The media in my opinion have a constant campaign to make the police look bad. Yes we get things wrong from time to time but so do the media. I wont start on Rupert Murdoch! We as citizens have a duty to help make society a better place so please media can we start having some HONEST reporting and who knows maybe some coverage of the success stories and good work that police do. Look at the riots in 1981. A massive factor in that was hatred towards the police (yes and in some cases they deserved it) but constantly having a pop at us DAMAGES society and does not help it.

Thank you for reading and as always I value your feedback.

Part 2 – Custody Duties – My Shift on 18/07/2012

I wrote part 1 of this Blog yesterday and said that I would be writing a further one at a later date. When I said that I was not intending to write this one so soon but after a shift that I can only describe as mental last night I felt that I should strike whilst the iron is hot.

Yesterday I worked from 14:00 to 23:00 hrs in a custody suite that holds 16 prisoners. The building itself is old fashioned and does not have the luxury of intercom links between the cell and charge desk. Instead it has old fashioned buzzers that have to be answered by walking down the corridor to personally visit the cell. My shift yesterday saw me experience a mixture of worry, anger, frustration, hunger, as well as happiness. I can’t forget to add the bucket loads of constant stress!

14:00 – Briefing

Having unpacked my lunch box, put my epaulettes and given my colleague some stick for making a grade A cock up the shift before its time for briefing. The Custody Sergeant, my colleague and I are stood in the back office and the early turn Custody Sergeant walks in looking hot and bothered and very stressed. Great I am thinking to myself, today is going to be hard work! I get a run down of each prisoner in custody and damn they are a needy bunch!

14:30 – And We Are Off

My team are stood behind the Charge Desk talking and before I even get the chance to say who is making the tea I spot on the CCTV screen a prisoner on 30 minute visits fall to the floor and start having a seizure. Remember how I was stressing the importance of cell visits in part 1 of this Blog!!! Grabbing some rubber gloves my colleague and I run to the cell and enter. I support the head allowing the woman to have the seizure before putting her in the recovery position and monitoring her breathing etc. An Ambulance had been called by someone at the Charge Desk.

The woman was a Heroin addict who was also a Alcoholic. She was HIV Positive, had Hep C and was Epileptic. I had my hands full. You may or may not have seen my tweets yesterday about targeting drugs. I made a #PeelPromise to terrorise drug dealers, to harass and stalk them and to put them out of business. For the drug user I promised to deal with them professionally and where I can get them the help they need. I will explain why.

I was sat next to this woman who was now stable. I was waiting to support her head again should she have another seizure. Kneeling down in high leg Magnum boots starts to hurt after a few minutes. As my colleague and I assessed her I could see her filthy hands, she had dirty finger nails and dirty palms. As I looked at her I could see her dirty clothes that had never seen a washing machine. Her arms were covered in cigarette burns where a abusive partner had burned her, and she had puncture marks all over her arms where she had been injecting. Her ankles and lower part of her legs were purple and black and they too were full of puncture marks. It was vile to look at. Seeing this reminded me of the sad reality of drugs and I could not help but think what a tragic waste of life. This was someones daughter, sister and for all I knew someones mother! Anyway she was taken to hospital and admitted. I may in the future Blog about Drugs and Associated Crime.

As all of this is going on one of our regulars was really starting to pardon my French piss me off! He was a local alcoholic who had handed himself in as he had been shoplifting earlier that day. He only did this as he wanted a bed for the night, some food and of course some Diazapam from the HCP! He had been in custody less than an hour and I think he thought he was the only person in custody as he repeatedly buzzed demanding food and drink. Get stuffed fella, tea time is not until 18:00hrs and I have more urgent things to do like saving a life!

Anyway after the sick woman had gone to hospital I was kept very busy by our resident alcoholic who was buzzing every five minutes and being abusive as he was hungry. He kept kicking and punching his cell door and calling me some not very nice things. At the same time I had two convicted robbers who funnily enough had been arrested for robbery again! The two robbers were demanding phone calls and kept asking despite being told I would fit them in as and when I could.

Whilst I am running around to the point my white shirt was sticking to my back the Custody Sergeant and my colleague were adding to my workload by booking in more prisoners! I was required to assist them with taking fingerprints, photo’s and where needed DNA. As this happened buzzers continued, my temper got shorter and shorter and eventually I snapped! I slam the shutter down on the alcoholics cell and ask him his problem. he replies by saying, “I WANT FOOD YOU C~~T”. I lose it and say that I am far too busy to worry about him and his food and that he will be fed at tea time like everyone else and that he should wind his neck in otherwise when I do get round to food he will be at the back of the queue. At that point I could not have cared less about his food or if I had upset him. He was annoying and I had far more urgent things to do. If he did not like it he should not have committed crime was my attitude. Anyway he carried on buzzing and the Custody Sergeant gave him more or less the same reply as me.

To cut a long story short I feed everyone at tea time. I have not stopped between tea time and starting work. I get abuse from the two robbers when I offer them food as they have not had their very important phonecalls. They ask how come I have time to cook food and not give them their calls.

Between tea time and 20:00hrs I had to put up with more moaning, abuse and threats. The alcoholic demanded more food. FORGET IT!!! I at some point managed to squeeze phone calls in for the two robbers, NOT that my efforts were appreciated. I do not normally let people get to me but these two robbers did. I was so pleased when they were both charged and remanded. It bought a smile to my face. I had the last laugh as I went home leaving them behind.

All of a sudden it went quiet. The two remanded robbers went to sleep, we released a number of  prisoners and although the alcoholic would keep buzzing (although longer between buzzes) I managed to find two minutes for myself to use a toilet. What a luxury I thought, never have I been so happy to see a toilet before. Having had that short release I sat down and wrote a few tweets. The alcoholic buzzed AGAIN. Having calmed down I started thinking that I may have been out of order by snapping at him. The environment I was in had altered my behaviour so when I opened the hatch I spoke with the man, as I had time to. I explained that I had been very busy and that he had not helped by repeated buzzing when all he wanted was food. He knew how it worked as he was no stranger to custody. I then said sorry to him. My colleagues asked me why I had done that as he had been a “pain in the arse”. I accept that he has issues but that should not effect me. Anyway the alcoholic went to sleep, but not until he had a bloody good moan about wanting an extra pillow, another blanket, a cup of tea and wanting to move to a different cell as he did not like that one. He got a cup of tea and that was his lot!

Having cleaned out recently vacated cells, and finally getting to drink a cup of tea that had not gone cold I did a few visits and boy was I pleased to see the welcoming site of the night shift. We handed over three prisoners having had a clear out and I tell you what I was out of that custody suite like a rat up a drain pipe. Having had a hard set of shifts I had forgotten that today (the day after) was my two days off!! How do you forget something like that? I will tell you, being over worked and understaffed, being seriously stressed and wound up and being tired.

I said yesterday that Custody was hard work and if this snap shot of nine hours of hell yesterday does not bring that home to you I would encourage you to where possible get some experience in this vital department. To the arresting / interviewing officers out there please remember that if you are kept waiting that it will be for a good reason and whilst you may get time to sit at a desk or in a canteen to eat your lunch those in custody, like me yesterday often end up working straight through and end up taking their uneaten lunch home with them at the end of the shift!!!

Thank you for reading.