Archive for September 6th, 2008

September 6th, 2008

Institutional Racism?

Posted in The Job - General by 200

In our dealings with society, we encounter many different groups & individuals. All diferent sections & sects, religions & ethnic groups, the weird, the wonderful, the dangerous & the downright strange.

Few groups get as much attention as travellers. Travellers get special attention when they come to the notice of the police.

Suppose someone steals your lawnmower, you follow them to a neighbour’s house. You would rightly expect the police to turn up & at least knock on the door, enquire as the whereabouts of the lawnmower & hopefully arrest the culprit.

If the thief is followed back to a traveller’s site, the chances are that the police won’t go on the site, not without significant backup, by which time the lawnmower has been stripped down, repainted & sold on three times.

If a group of kids are standing at the side of the road chucking bricks at cars, you might expect robust dealings from the old bill. You wouldn’t be too chuffed if a copper turned up & declined to go onto the site to find the little brats because the nearest backup was in custody dealing with a domestic arrest & nobody else can attend.

The fact is that when it comes to going onto travellers’ sites to deal with allegations of crime or disorder, we don’t do it unless there are several of us & possibly mob-handed. It works both ways though. When a traveller calls up from his site saying other travellers from another site have come round & are trashing his home, we don’t go on site until there are sufficient units to secure our own safety, so if they are getting a good kicking, that kicking is going to last a bit longer than they might like; you make your bed, etc, etc.

Why is this? It’s because of our dealings with incidents on travellers’ sites  & with traveller individuals suggests that there is a very high liklihood of violence & disorder towards us. It’s not a pleasant experience trying to stop a group of travellers who’ve just raided a petrol station shop & getting a shotgun pointed at you.

Is this health ‘n’ safety or is it racisim?

I don’t know, but it is acceptable to those who run the police.

If I was sent to write down the number plates of all the cars owned by black people on the Ridgewell Estate, did intelligence checks on them & stuck them on an intelligence database, people might be horrified that I could do this & it would be an acceptable tool in the fight against crime. Yet it’s perfectly acceptable to drive round a travellers’ site at 3 in the morning writing down all the number plates & doing checks on the vehicles; it’s about intelligence led policing & is a useful method of tracking criminals.

If I approached you with the expectation that you were going to punch me, I might give off an entriely different vibe that I would if I thought you were going to invite me in for a cup of tea, but it’s OK to believe that if you’re a traveller.

I have no idea what proportion of travellers have criminal records as compared to the average chap on the Ridgwell Estate. I have an idea but if I express it that makes me racist against travellers because I’m going to say that I believe there is a higher percentage of violent criminals amongst that group than most others, yet I’ve only ever dealt with a couple of thousand individuals out of a population of many thousands.

On one of our diversity training days we had to stand in the middle of the room. The trainer read out certain comments & we had to stand in the room according to how much we agreed with the statement. If you agreed strongly you stood by the wall, if you disagreed strongly you stood by the windows, if you agreed a bit you stood somewhere near the middle.

One of the questions was ‘Travellers are more likelty to nick stuff than the average citizen’, or words to that effect.  Most people hovered around the middle of the room, there were a few by the ‘disgaree wall’ but only 1 by the windows. When we discussed it away from the trainer over lunch, most people said they thought the correct answer was by the window but they didn’t want to stand there for fear of being labelled as a racist.

I’d really like to find out the figures, it would be nice to know whether I’m a racist or a realist. I wouldn’t mind knowing whether my bosses who sanction or even demand this special treatment are racist too.