Local authorities, housing agencies and education services must recognise the role that they have played, albeit unwittingly, in creating the community tensions that lay at the heart of the urban riots in England this summer.
That’s the view of crime experts at the University of Leicester’s renowned Scarman Centre who have analysed the differences between the riots on 1981 and 2001.
Their views, presented at a conference at the University of Leicester, are timely in the light of the enquiry report on the Oldham riots, the findings of which are due to be released on Tuesday (December 11).
Dr Mike Rowe, an expert in public order, policing and ethnic minorities, said: “The riots in Brixton and elsewhere in the early ‘80s were predominantly “anti-police”. They followed from particularly controversial police operations or actions. While the more recent events were directed at the police in terms of the physical violence that occurred, the causal factors were broader.”
Dr Rowe said local agencies played a pivotal role in ensuring community tensions were diffused – an issue that had not been addressed adequately in Oldham.
The conference assessed changes in policing since the Lawrence Report and, in a broader context, the changing relations between police and minority groups in the twenty years since the influential Scarman Report.
More than 100 delegates heard reflections on developments over the last four years from senior police officers and academics. Papers were presented on topics such as the changing role of police officers, the nature of institutional racism, police community and race relations training, and the policing of hate crime.
John Grieve, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, spoke of the many initiatives developed in the wake of the Macpherson Report, including the enhanced role of Family Liaison Officers, some of whom were deployed in the aftermath of the World Trade Centre attacks on September 11.
Jon Garland and Sam Johnson discussed their evaluation of police training in community and race relations; and Matt Baggott, Deputy Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police outlined organisational changes designed to enhance police-relations.
Conference organiser, Dr Mike Rowe, reflected that the range of topics discussed was an indication of how great the agenda for reform has been in response to the Macpherson Report.
NOTE TO NEWSDESK: Dr Mike Rowe is lecturer in policing at the Scarman Centre. He can be contacted on 0116 252 5705, or 0793 1109003
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.
If you are an authorised user you may edit this document through your Web browser.