Brian Paddick: The police must be servants of the community

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The Independent Online

You are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police if you are black than if you are white, with varying degrees of disproportionality throughout the criminal justice system, from those arrested and prosecuted to those sent to prison – so the black community in particular have good reason to be suspicious.

The police should be the servants of the people, acting on behalf of the community they should be protecting. Failure actively to demonstrate that they are listening to and acting on community concerns, failure to align themselves with community priorities or show that they are "their" police, will inevitably result in a growing belief that the police are against the community and not part of it.

In 1892 the co-founder of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Richard Mayne, wrote: "The protection of life and property, the preservation of public tranquillity, and the absence of crime, will alone prove... whether the objects for which the police were appointed have been attained." They were not attained in Tottenham. The relationship between the community and its police are crucial to achieving those objects.

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