crime - Crime and Ethnicity Page |1 With reference to the...

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C r i m e a n d E t h n i c i t y P a g e | 1 With reference to the British context, account for the existence of police racism Britain's treatment of black people cannot be explained merely by the existence of racist individuals. This essay aims to study the context of racism in Britain by focusing on racism within the police. While complaints of racist police behaviour have been a common historical phenomenon, the modern pattern and consistency of such complaints is exceptional (Gordon, 1983). There are many theories that have been applied to this issue in the past, with the four main ones being Scarman’s (1981) theory of “the bad apple”, society’s reflection (Keith) ,Canteen culture (Fielding, 1994) and institutional racism as favoured by Macpherson. All of which will be discussed in this piece. Until the early 1980’s Britain could have been accurately accused of being a “White man’s country” say Bowling and Phillips (2002). They claim that the existence of racism within the police forces was ignored by government and complaints were never carried through as there was no proof or evidence that such a thing happened. Now over twenty years later this has all changed due to research that has taken place on the issue. The first major piece of research on this case was The Scarman report written in 1981 was a response to rioting in the early 1980’s. It looks specifically at the Brixton riots of 1981. It identified racism in the police as problem amongst junior officers. It is this report that links mainly to the first thesis – the “bad apple” thesis. Scarman viewed racial prejudice as being found in junior officer and not senior Sociology and Criminology Samantha Coles
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C r i m e a n d E t h n i c i t y P a g e | 2 officers, and focuses on the idea that racism stems from the actions of some officers on the street who have dealings with black youths (Bowling and Phillips, 2002). In his report Lord Scarman suggests that the solution to the problem of British police racism would be careful selection of officers and to ferret out and get rid of individuals who demonstrate such racist behavior. The BBC (1981) passed comment on the report explaining how Scarman criticised police and the government, but it said there was no excuse for the violence and praised officers for their conduct during the disorder. However this idea is criticized largely (Cathcart, 1999) through the idea that members if the police culture share values and therefore can share individual prejudices. These can therefore be passed on to the wider community via the status and belief in the police force. This bad apple thesis developed later into the idea that the police service is a reflection of society (Keith 1993). Therefore as the forces are a cross section of society they therefore hold the same values and if in the general community a number of white people are racist towards blacks, Asians and other minority ethnic groups then this will be shown respectively in the police forces within the UK. A third thesis of police racism is that of a canteen culture. Fielding (1995)
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crime - Crime and Ethnicity Page |1 With reference to the...

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