Policing black people : a study of ethnic relations as seen through the police complaints system
This thesis examines public attitude towards police services and, more particularly, police misconduct. It contextualises and explains the current complaints system, especially whether it satisfies the complainant and endears public confidence. It shows how aberrant police behaviour exposes some of the sociological issues such as black over- representation in complaints statistics, alleged black provocation in situational street incidents, substantiation rates and the likely outcome of black and Asian complaints. Analysis of the main sociological texts on the police suggest a continuing problem with the vexed issue of constabulary independence. The autonomous nature of this principle has helped to create partiality in terms of complaints that favour the police against the citizen. In the eyes of some citizens this has tended to reduce the legitimacy of the complaints process. The main analysis suggests that certain policing practices have a greater impact on diverse sections of the public which, when coupled with under-use of the complaints process tends to put a stopper in the bottle of fermenting discontent. To restore confidence and involve those who are socially excluded, the dysfunctional effects of inaccessibility, complication and inequality should give way to easy access, simplification and informality. The thesis addresses these problems by suggesting a move to more utilitarian ideals designed to be more customer focused. The model of 'good practice' is prescriptive and ensures an independent lay element to complaints investigation and resolution. The principle of civil libertarian ideals prevails in the proposed model and this seeks to redress the balance where justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done.