Locals stand by Paddick for 'looking at the bigger picture'

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The Independent Online

A young black man who goes by the name of "Spaced"' was digesting the news in Brixton yesterday that his local police Commander, Brian Paddick, had been moved to a desk job while being investigated for drugs and sex allegations.

Sat in the popular Dog Star pub on Coldharbour Lane, he said: "Paddick is being abused by the Metropolitan Police, by some parts of the media and by some non-thinking people on Urban75 (the website on which Commander Paddick raised his views on anarchy)."

Spaced was keen to point out that the allegations against Mr Paddick remained unproved.

"Because of his background he doesn't have the same point of view as normal coppers – and that's a good thing. I have spoken to hundreds of police on community relations exercises. But when they are off duty they can say things that really upset me – about drug taking and crime. Paddick isn't like that.''

Many agreed the area needed a bespoke policing policy for drugs and street crime although they were divided on how to achieve the best results. Either way, most were unaware who had been steering this policy until yesterday.

Inquirers were often met with the response "Commander who?'' One shopkeeper said one man could not change his view of the "rotten'' local force.

However, Kevin Sheedy, a civil servant, added: "There's a plot against him. In the current climate there is a move towards cracking down on crime. If you have got a policeman who is openly gay that gives the story an extra angle. The police are not known for their liberalism.''

Mr Sheedy added: "There is a massive crack-cocaine problem in this area and you need to target resources towards that to make it a safer place."

Nigel Foster, a supermarket security manager who has lived in Brixton all his life, said: "He's looking at the bigger picture. No one else has done that. I'm really shocked and upset. If it takes me to come out here and protest then I will do that.''

Peter Koru, a DJ originally from New Zealand, said: "To many West Indians, cannabis is the drug of choice rather than alcohol. When I came to England, this country had a reputation for tolerance.

"To remove a man from his job because he might have had a spliff or two is breathtaking in its hypocrisy."