Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Racism in the ranks of British Police [Rasism în rândurile Poliţiei Britanice]

Can you spot any black person in the picture (for which I must again give credit to my reader C.L.)? Or the Asian person?

No?! Then, apart from the size of the picture (compressed for easier uploading), another reason would be that you are not a racist.

Unlike many British police personnel, you are not accustomed with this kind of ‘quick spotting’, as this research supposedly reveals.

Black people are 26 more likely to be stopped by the police in Britain,” it is claimed, and that wouldn’t be the greatest surprise.

A similar report, quoted by the same article in The Daily Mail, had reached the conclusion, some years ago, than Asians are 6.3 times more likely to be stopped by the police than whites.

Accounts of racism in the ranks of British police are not new, and not only the Communists from The Socialist Worker invoke them.

As long as even the political correct BBC or The Independent dealt with this issue, we can assume that there is no smoke without a fire.

Nevertheless, I find very peculiar the claim in The Daily Mail article that “the British figures showed the widest ‘race gap’ in stop and search that they had found across the world.”

What about racism within the American police forces?! Are they now ‘champions’ of political correctness, while the Brits have turned into ‘villains’?

Of course, I couldn’t have assessed the extent of racism among British police as long as I am white and I got only one such account from a ‘target of racism’ (Asian).

Anyway, I dare giving in to a conspiracy theory: what if the Brits are not as racist as some would like them to believe that they are?!

I guess I draw the ire of many with my examples of ‘sad truths from the UK’, but I am somehow reluctant to embrace the idea of a (more or less concealed) ‘racist Britain’.

From my humble experience, I got the strong impression that Britons are some of the most tolerant nations in the world. Or at least among the 27 EU countries.

Who and why wants to convince the world (and the Brits themselves) that they are more racist than others? If Britons were deemed ‘paramount racists’, what about the French?

On top of various weird studies, I stumbled upon one that feeds the appetite of any conspiracy theory pundit, and equals the absurdity of this situation.

How could anyone believe a study suggesting that 75% of the Britons are ‘racist’ just because they think that Islam provides a negative contribution to British society?

[For all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Mihai said...

First of all, I would like to say that I am not a racist, I don't have anything against other races (me being part of the Caucasian group) and I think racism is a crazy idea.

At the same time, I am not (and never have been) a politically correct guy.

I think being 26 times more likely to be stopped by the police if you are a black person is more a matter of statistics than a matter of racism.

I don't know if black persons break the law more often in the UK than caucasian ones, but I do know that if I were a policeman and I knew that, let's say, 70% of the crimes are committed by black persons (or asians or gypsies-do have something against their way of life- or whatever), I would be more careful when spotting someone black/asian/gypsy (specially gypsy :) , because he is statistically more likely to break the law. And that without being racist, just careful and well informed.

MunteanUK said...

Dear Mihai,

You are drawing attention to a very relevant aspect here: indeed, it may be 'statistically reasonable' for a policeman to stop a person of a certain race.

Sadly, I doubt the fact that many politically correct idiots would agree with you, and consider such an attitude that of a "careful and well informed" law enforcement officer, as you do.


It happens that in any such study based on 'statistics', "the devil is in the details"...

For instance, what if the data of the research were collected in neighbourhoods were a certain racial/ethnic group is predominant?

I think it's reasonable enough to consider that a black person may be 26 times more likely to be stopped by the police if that person lives in a neighbourhood where 40-50-60% or more are black people, or Asian, or Gypsy.

Anyway, newspaper articles rarely (if ever!) mention the methodology used by a certain research; what matters are the more or less 'spectacular' conclusions.

Conclusions that may be utterly wrong, but hailed as 'ultimate truths' :-(


Not that I would like to say that British policemen are 'faultless', but the point I wanted to make in my blog post is that they are too hastily accused of racism.

What I mean is that they seem - to me at least, but I may be wrong, and that's why I am asking my readers for their opinions - to be far less racist than others.

It takes 'hard evidence' to accuse a police force of racism. Here's an example of what that would mean (from present day France):


Anonymous said...

1. What about racism within the Romanian police?! if we can measure/ some kind of leaders of that in ‘bad things’ with the Americans and Brits?! 2. British police are also human beings, and they have their sins… I didn’t wanted to be cynical, by the way! ha ha (Well, being part of the guild I'm really, really sorry to hear that police officers are racists, corrupt cops, whether they are Romanians, British, or American.)

Mihai said...


I think the Romanian police has far bigger issues than racism.

MunteanUK said...

@ G.

First and foremost, I don't know how 'measurable' racism is. And if there existed such a 'scientific' methodology, what police force would allow unrestricted access to 'researchers'?!


In my humble view, Romanian police personnel are not as racist as those in other police forces. I would offer these arguments:

1) not that Romanians would be 'saints', yet they are a generally tolerant nation, and so should Romanian policemen be.


2) too many politically correct organisms (EU, Council of Europe, US State Department, NGOs etc) have been keeping under scrutiny Romania, and they would have reacted to 'structural' racism.

[none of these institutions' reports of the past years noticed 'widespread' racism; they simply had to admit the existence of some isolated cases - and, believe me, there are many more or less open enemies of Romania who would have liked to make those reports as embarrassing as possible for Romanians!]


[3] there are several Gypsy police officers among the Romanian forces, and this minority has 'reserved places' at the Police Academy and other police schools.


As long as you confess that you are "part of the guild", can't you share with us how racism is seen 'from within'?

Could you support or dismiss my above mentioned arguments in favour of the idea that Romanian police forces are not racist?

Natalia said...

I think the problem of racism is very difficult in general. It's very easy to identify racism when it manifests itself as "I hate you because of your skin colour/nationality, etc". But when we meet something like "I don't like Arabians because they often impose their religion and culture" or “I try to keep away from Nigerians because they often very rude”. What are these? Are we facing beginning of nationalism or it’s just a defense? I think in terms of Britain it’s a defense which alerts people that it may turn to nationalism.

I agree with Mihai that for policemen stopping people has much to do with statistics (there is even a very interesting research in the USA just now. They adopt using different types of random algorithms to examine luggage and pass angers in LA international airport because people (even if they don’t want) cannot avoid using their experience in making decision who and what must be examined.)

MunteanUK said...

Dear Natalia,

Thank you for making a clear distinction between what I would call 'outright' racism, and 'hidden' racism.

Actually, I think that there is only one type of true racism - the 'outright' one, when people don't only openly express racist views, but when these opinions are turned into concrete actions.

As for what people think, what they are worried about or what keeps them 'alert' regarding people of other races or ethnicities... these can't be properly measured.

As much as I find racism stupid, and I agree that there must be laws protecting everyone from discrimination, I don't endorse any possible kind of politically correct 'thought police' that would try to 'punish' (or at least 'control') those who have thoughts, worries, life views etc that could be considered 'racist'.


What you example says about the experiment carried out in LA (probably by the Transport Security Administration - TSA) is what each of us does more or less often.

We can't avoid using 'algorithms' based on experiences. Our brains would explode if we had to analyse each situation that we are put through as a completely new one, thus we base our reasoning on memories.

Our mind functions on the basis of categories and categorization, on stereotypes, on generalisations, on
previously 'processed' data.

Of course, there is a 'risk' of having collected 'wrong data' upon which we based our wrong conclusions that we want to 'generalise', but these 'errors of thought' shouldn't be 'punished'.


I couldn't deny the fact that there are 'ugly' instances of racism among police forces all over the world, but I think it is unfair and maybe dangerous on the long term to be too harsh on policemen, accusing them of stopping more often certain categories of people.

The 'politically corect idiots' don't want to see it, but we are all potential 'racists' if we count on our previous experiences.

Maybe my example would be dismissed as 'irrelevant', but I think anyone who has once been bitten by a dog will always be reluctant to gettting too close to dogs.

Being actually bitten may be the extreme scenario, but people learn to be afrad of dogs even when they are simply exposed to stories about other people bitten by dogs.

MunteanUK said...

@ G., Natalia, Mihai & anyone else who may be interested in the topic in discussion

Here's a very interesting article about the UK Government planning to allow police to stop and search people on the grounds of skin colour:


MunteanUK said...

@ everyone

Other relevant links on this topic: