Category Archives: acab

ACAB is a feminist issue

Content note: this post discusses violence against women and police violence

There is a gang of mostly men who have a monopoly on perpetrating and enabling violence against women. They recruit just enough women to do their dirty work for them, to hide the fact that they are the biggest perpetrators of male violence. We can see them for what they are.

Just today, we have two stories of gross abuse of women coming from the police. It has taken almost thirty years for the police to finally be blamed for shooting Cherry Groce, causing her to live out the rest of her life paralysed from the waist down and eventually die from the injury. Almost thirty years, a woman’s life destroyed, from a senseless act of violence for which she didn’t get to see justice in her lifetime. Meanwhile, in the realm of inciting violence and abuse of women, we see a story where the Met encouraged their Twitter followers to pile on a woman for complaining about the noise their helicopters make.

I suppose for me, this is somewhat personal. Once again, I’ll give a tiny sample of stories, limited to within the last month, of the police acting as perpetrators and enablers of violence against women as there’s just too fucking many, even limited to people I know personally. There’s my friend Ellen, who was assaulted, wrongly arrested, held without her medication and then put through a malicious court case and left with PTSD from the experience. There’s my friend Sam, who believed the white liberal lies, called the police and was blamed for the abuse she was receiving, perhaps because she isn’t the nice white girl the police like.

It’s a fact that the police have the power to hit women. It’s a fact they have the power to lock women up. And it’s a fact that they and their apologists will blame their victims for what happened to them.

It’s a fact that police are positioned as the gatekeepers for getting justice for violence against women. It’s a fact that they fail survivors over and over again. And it’s a fact that due to the choices they make, they enable abuse of countless women.

If you’re a nice white middle class girl, it can be hard to see the police for what they are. To you, they’ll be that nice jolly bobby who helped you get the people who tweeted rude things to you sent to prison. It’ll be the organisation who you can work with because they’ll definitely improve at helping out all the abstract women who had trouble.

They are not. Ask sex workers. Ask Black women. Ask women of colour. Ask trans women. Ask any woman who is not a good girl. They are the aggressors, the perpetrators, the ones who attack already-marginalised women while the privileged cheer from the sidelines.

A coherent, inclusive and effective feminism can and must be deeply critical of the police, and begin from a position of utter abolition of this structural perpetrator of male violence. I don’t doubt such a proposal will be met with harrumphing, cries of NOT ALL PIGGIES and eventually tending towards the hope I get raped and then let’s see how anti-police I am (pre-empting that by saying already happened, didn’t report).

If you think the police are on your side, that is the utmost manifestation of privilege. For most women, they’re just abusers in a silly hat.


In which I review a book that I read: Playing The Whore

Since I heard that Melissa Gira Grant wrote a book about sex work, I’ve been desperate to get my grubby mitts on it. Having now read Playing The Whore: The Work Of Sex Work, I want to recommend that every single one of you reads this fucking book.

Weighing in at just 132 pages, I’m astounded Gira Grant managed to pack in so much vital–and radical–analysis in such an accessible format. Central to her thesis is the concept of a “prostitute imaginary”, a cobbled-together bundle of myths which occupies our minds. These myths are systematically examined and dismantled through a feminist lens. Everything you thought you knew about sex work is a lie, it seems. Did you know, for example, that among a sample of over 21, 000 women who do sex work in West Bengal, there were 48, 000 reports of violence perpetrated by police, but only 4000 perpetrated by customers?

Gira Grant has a theory as to why this may be the case. The forces of public imagination surrounding sex work run strong. Misogynists, law enforcement and feminists alike view a sex worker as always working, as nothing but a sex worker. She (as Gira Grant points out, this stereotype is always of a cis woman) is somehow deviant and subjected to stigma for her deviance. Simultaneously, focus is on representations of sex, rather than the concrete. We only see sex workers being arrested, or peek through a peephole to see what we want to see. With all of this going on, the voices of sex workers can easily be ignored, creating this situation:

These demands on their speech [in testimony in court and the media], to both convey their guilt and prove their innocence, are why, at the same time that sex work has made strides toward recognition and popular representations that defy stereotypes, prostitutes, both real and imaginary, still remain the object of social control. This is how sex workers are still understood: as curiosities, maybe, but as the legitimate target of law enforcement crackdowns and charitable concerns–at times simultaneously. And so this is where the prostitute is still most likely to be found today, where those who seek to “rescue” her locate her: at the moment of her arrest.

The book travels in a spiral, revisiting the same points over and over again to the joint problems of violence and coercion from law enforcement, and how other women, especially feminists, aren’t helping–and in fact, attempts to rescue can often make things worse, such as demonstrated in a case study in Cambodia, where attempts to “rescue” sex workers have led to many women being dragged away to “rehabilitation camps”, repurposed prisons where women have died or set to work long shifts behind a sewing machine.

A lot of what we as feminists have been doing wrong is related to “whore stigma”, which Gira Grant explains goes beyond simple misogyny:

The fear of the whore, or of being the whore, is the engine that drives the whole thing [a culture which is dangerous for sex workers]. That engine could be called “misogyny”, but even that word misses something: the cheapness of the whore, how easily she might be discarded not only due to her gender, but to her race, her class. Whore is maybe the original intersectional insult.

It is a desire to reverse away from “whore stigma”, which predominantly affects sex workers, but can also hit women who are not sex workers, which links with a lot of problems within mainstream feminism: Gira Grant theorises that it is no coincidence that feminists who are anti-sex work are also often transphobic. And, likewise, anti-sex work laws are often used against trans women and women of colour, from unfair targeting for stop and search, to disproportionate incarceration.

It makes for uncomfortable reading at times, this litany of our own mistakes as feminists, and perhaps nowhere is it clearer than in an analysis of objectification, and the feminist line that sex workers increase objectification of women. The evidence upon which these assumptions rest is dealt with in short order, and Gira Grant highlights the dehumanisation and objectification of sex workers at the hands of women, as silent props, and, often depicted in a frighteningly demeaning fashion.

In dismantling the myths, Playing The Whore offers glimpses of the reality of sex work, the diversity of all that this umbrella covers. The book explains neatly how sex work fits in among other forms of work, of how once upon a time, sex workers and housewives were sisters in arms. At times, I wish the book were far longer, as I feel as though there are tantalising hints of analysis to come which never quite develops but is merely teased. Although this book is neither explicitly anti-capitalist nor explicitly ACAB, conclusions of this nature bubble under the surface, never spelled out, for this is not quite within its scope in its current form.

This book is a must-read feminist book. I would go so far as to place it as a crucial Feminism 101 text. The first feminist book I ever read way Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs, whose ideas I am still struggling to unlearn, as it gave me a shameful attitude towards sex workers and femmes for years I will never get back. Playing The Whore casts a critical eye on patriarchy while actively dismantling the stigma many women face, and teaches the central feminist values of listening, and solidarity. For readers more versed in feminist theory and praxis, it allows us to evaluate our past mistakes and encourages us to rebuild on more solid ground. By rights, this book could and should shake up feminism for the better.

But sadly, I fear it will not, for I fear the forces Gira Grant outlines are too powerful to be brought down by this smart little book. We have had centuries of clinging to a prostitute imaginary while coming up with numerous excuses to silence the voices of sex workers. I believe that this book will largely be ignored by the mainstream with their stake in speaking for and over sex workers. A recent review of Playing The Whore by a liberal cis white feminist took umbrage to Gira Grant’s centring of sex workers in a book about sex work, and decided that she would rather read about “demand”. Mainstream feminism wants sex workers decentred from discussions directly pertinent to their livelihood, it wants to keep sex workers on the margins. It will not listen.

Gira Grant knows this, which is why she concludes with a rousing cry for decriminalisation, in the hope that the rest will follow. This conclusion, and the solidarity Gira Grant asks for are concrete things which we as feminists who do not do sex work can support.


Of course the police are more interested in rude tweets than violence against women

Content note: this post discusses violence against women 

In news that is pissing me off today, the Twitter is inherently abusive line is out in the media again. This time the victim is Stan Collymore, who was sent racist and threatening tweets. The police are, of course, interested and investigating.

Now, of course, it is unacceptable to send racist and threatening tweets to anyone, but I’m getting a little concerned about how much of an interest they are showing in rude tweets. This isn’t the first time they’ve swooped in to help out Stan Collymore: late in 2012, a man was arrested for sending a racist tweet to Stan Collymore. Indeed, arresting people for tweets seems to be a new top policing priority, in sharp contrast with how they deal with violence against women.

Let’s look at Stan Collymore’s record. He violently attacked one woman, including kicking her in the head three times. As far as I can discern, the police didn’t get involved at all. He then went on to threaten to kill his wife and burn down her parents’ home. This time the police took the matter slightly more seriously, and charged him for a threat to destroy property, because apparently the structural integrity of a building is the most important thing here.

So why are the police far more gung-ho in going after internet trolls than perpetrators of domestic violence? Ultimately, it boils down to two things.

Firstly, they don’t really give a flying fuck about violence against women. This is why so few of us report our rapes. This is why we don’t trust the police to keep our violent partners away from us. We’ve seen their record, and we know that they’ll violate any trust we put in them. And many women, particularly marginalised women, have themselves been victims of violence perpetrated by police, because that’s their job: to beat us into submission. The role of the police is to keep everything as it is–and this includes protecting a structure which enables violence against women.

Put more charitably, the police are a product of a broken society, born and raised in it, and then paid to enforce this broken society. Is it any surprise that they reflect and enforce patriarchal control of women?

And secondly, democratised communication scares the shit out of the establishment. It is a way people can get messages out, outside of the controlled circumstances in which we may usually have a platform. Things get out that threaten the system, and that frightens them. Of course they will instrumentalise the very real experiences of misogyny and racism in order to try to clamp down on their own real enemy: their critics. It is important to remember, when thinking of police interventions into online abuse, to remember this. Twitter was blamed for the riots, while simultaneously lauded for causing the spread of democracy in the Middle East. These are the same mechanisms at work in both cases, and basically the state would rather keep such uprisings further away from home.

It is hardly a surprise that tweets will be policed more heavily than kicking a woman in the head. It is an inevitable reflection of how things are.


ACAB, AJAB, &c., &c.

From last night, two horrible stories about the police, reflecting how all cops are bastards. The first involves a peaceful university occupation. Students occupied Senate House in solidarity with staff. The students were violently evicted by police–including the TSG–within a few hours. Several were arrested, and some were assaulted by police. The second story took place that same night in Soho, where the police charged in and arrested sex workers, using the excuse that the women were “handling stolen goods”.

In both of these instances, people have been harmed by police, and it looks like the filth had a busy night being utter bastards. So surely the media have been busy with their unbiased reporting?

Er, obviously not. We live in a country where journalism mostly consists of regurgitating press releases. This is fairly evident in the Evening Standard’s reporting of the Soho raids, especially when it is compared to what sex workers are saying happened on social media. Unfortunately, there doesn’t even seem to be a will to listen to what sex workers say: observe the feeble excuses coming from journalists in this thread on being called out for not bothering to cover the story.

Meanwhile, the Guardian is reporting on the Senate House eviction, and has even posted a video of some of the police violence. The video clearly shows a police officer punching a protester, so it is somewhat perplexing that the Guardian has seen fit to put scare quotes around the word “punch” in the headline.

We’ve seen it throughout Leveson, and I don’t doubt we’ll see this again and again. The media is firmly in the pockets of the police. Rather than a free press, what we have is an extension of the police press office. This grip is maintained partially through a mutually beneficial arrangement, but further because these days, journalists don’t seem interested in doing research, in listening and stepping outside of their media clique and actually criticising the establishment that serves them.

The police perpetrate violence, and the media gladly covers for them. Remember this.


Your periodic reminder that the system still fails rape survivors

Content note: this post discusses rape and rape apologism

The latest figures suggest that the police are getting increasingly bad at referring rape cases to the CPS, despite the fact reporting is on the rise. This must be absolutely devastating for the survivors who chose to report, finding this route to justice the best.

For me, the official route has never been particularly appealing. I’ve written before about why I feel that way. I feel for those who felt that reporting and the court system was what they wanted; they have been failed so much. Why have the police suddenly decided that so much isn’t worth prosecuting, after gaining the trust of more and more survivors?

The answer is, of course, rape culture. It’s worth noting that this is alive and roaring from the establishment in this situation. Take a look at these two juxtaposed headlines:

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This was likely accidental, inasmuch as these things are accidental. Certainly, I don’t think anyone set out this page thinking “I want to associate rape reporting with lies”. It’s just that these associations exist in our minds, because we were all born and raised in a rape culture.

And very few of us see that everything we thought to be true about rape is wrong. So we end up here.

Their intent is not magical, and I do not trust the police, the media, the justice system to deal with rape adequately. They have too much power and too little understanding. Remember just how much they fail us.


How V53 might not be a liar (but is still a racist and a murderer)

No doubt some of you have been following the Mark Duggan inquest today. The officer who shot Duggan, V53, gave some rather baffling evidence. He swears blind that he saw a gun in Duggan’s hand, to the point that he could describe it, and yet the alleged gun which he saw in so much detail was also shrouded in a sock and somehow managed to teleport quite far away. Supernatural explanations notwithstanding, it looks rather a lot like our porcine witness is telling fibs. This seems like a particularly logical conclusion on a day where it has emerged that–shock horror!–cops are fucking liars.

Even assuming that it is impossible for guns to apparate by magic out of a sock and over a fence some distance away, however, it is possible that V53′s evidence is entirely honest. There is a psychological effect known as “weapon bias” which makes people see guns where there are none. Simply the effect of seeing a black face can make research participants imagine that they have seen a gun, especially when they are tasked with making a split-second decision. Interestingly, this effect seems to happen even when the participants are black. It is theorised that the underlying cause for this is racial stereotypes, which is exacerbated by making snap decisions.

Ultimately, then, it is entirely possible that V53 was telling the truth when he saw that magical gun. That doesn’t make him any less of a racist or a murderer, simply that the fact he is a racist has warped his memory. Likewise, it doesn’t make him any less culpable for the killing.

The knowledge that a bias exists which makes imaginary weapons appear in black hands means that we ought to treat such police claims with utmost scepticism, and question the notion that it is ever necessary to arm those who will make snap decisions based on racism with the capacity to end lives.


The police and instrumentalising survivors

Content note: this post discusses rape 

On Saturday night I sat shivering outside a police station with a bag of cereal bars and a friendly smile, waiting for comrades to be released from police custody following their mass arrest for Standing While Antifascist. Police came and went from the station, and eventually a car rocked up full of plainclothes cops, one of whom I’m pretty sure I recognised from actions and so forth; a meat-headed hegemonically masculine fucker.

Unsurprisingly, comrades were vocally critical of the police, particularly as it was a day where more than 280 people had been arrested for Standing While Antifascist. The police were asked what good they thought they possibly served in their role of police officers.

And they went on the defensive with a tired old line I’ve heard a thousand times before. “Tell that to the rape victims [sic],” they said. “Tell them we’re not doing any good.”

I’m not sure why it hit me so hard this time, but I kind of shut down. Full anxiety, unable to form words bollocks. Basically, I knew I would either cry or hit one of those jowly-faced pricks, and neither option was particularly appealing as showing weakness in front of pigs is almost as bad as assaulting one directly outside a cop shop. And so my brain decided to temporarily BSoD.

And now I’m left thinking of what I should have said, what I would have said had I been able to.

I’m thinking of how perhaps I could have said that as a survivor myself I never wanted to go fucking near the police because who on earth would? I would not want their sausage fingers probing my recently-violated flesh, hands more suited to violence than to aid. I wouldn’t trust the sensitivity of that porcine pair in any of it.

I’m thinking of how perhaps I could have pointed out the numerous fuck-ups that the police as an institution have made. Losing evidence, dropping cases on purely arbitrary criteria, all adding to unnecessary additional trauma. I could have mentioned how their Sapphire unit seems to be under a near-perpetual state of reshuffle as yet another survivor is let down. I could have mentioned how they continue to pump out propaganda placing blame on the survivor rather than the perpetrator. I could have mentioned how when police officers rape, it is often treated as an internal matter, only misconduct, much like fudging some paperwork (although, often their fudged paperwork happens to help perpetrators). I could have mentioned how they deceive women into sex to collect information on them. I could have mentioned how all of these failings put together paint a picture that suggests they cannot possibly be so awful by accident. I could have asked them whether they think their all-round hideousness contributes to the fact that the vast majority of rapes go unreported.

I’m thinking of how perhaps I could have asked why they had decided to point at an area where they are mostly contributing to a culture of violence by their inaction, rather than their usual method of actively perpetrating violence; in particular on a night where they were holding hundreds of non-consenting people merely because they had Stood While Antifascist.

I’m thinking of how perhaps I could have said that it is utterly disgusting that they use rape survivors as human shields against criticism. We are people, not an abstract concept which helps the filth sleep at night, that allows them to pretend to themselves that they are somehow doing good. We are not a trump card to be played, nor are we a distraction from the utterly unjustifiable. It is vile to instrumentalise human beings, yet this is what the bastards do time and time again. And it is horrible to see this line trotted out, confirming suspicions that this is all the police think of survivors. A problem to be solved so they have a success story so they can deflect attention away from their own thoroughly inexcusable violences.

I said none of this, because I was scared and anxious and angry and upset through their behaviour. I said none of this because as a woman and a survivor, the presence of gigantic meaty men who position themselves as gatekeepers for justice makes me feel fundamentally unsafe. I said none of this because I do not think it would have swayed them at all: they are incapable of reason, and it was not worth my while.

Fellow feminists and survivors, never forget that the police are not our friends.


Cordial reminder: the state is not our friend

Content note: this post discusses rape and victim blaming

Look, I respect your decision to call the cops if you’re feeling threatened–it’s not a choice I’d ever make, but do what works for you. Let’s never take things further than that, though. Let us not continue to step in and ask the state to do shit for us, like porn filtering and new laws and the like. Let us remember that they are definitely not our friends.

Let’s have a look at two stories that have been in the news today. First, we have the sad tale of a woman who reported her rape to the police, was referred to the specialist unit and they ignored her. The rapist was her husband. He went on to murder their two children. The police resisted an investigation into how this could have possibly been allowed to happen. Eventually, a disciplinary happened, and the officer in charge of this… didn’t lose his job, and just got a little slap on the wrist.

Then there’s this story. A thirteen year old girl was abused by a man who owned videos depicting child abuse. The judge allowed him to walk free because the survivor was “predatory” and was “egging him on”.

Ask yourselves. How can you ever trust an institution whose arms have such a pisspoor understanding of how rape and abuse work? You might think they have the potential for change, but these things keep happening again and again. The state is a particular manifestation of patriarchy. The state is not our friend, and it never will be. It is always against us.

My feminism will stand against the state, because it has to.


Signal boosts: Racial profiling and racist raids–don’t look away

The Home Office Twitter account has been gloating of late, after having rounded up a lot of “immigration offenders”, who it looks increasingly likely were racially profiled. The raids have, unsurprisingly, not been received well in local areas. This is in conjunction with the Home Office’s other immigration project, where it looks like they believed they were blowing a dogwhistle, but actually ended up reaching for a bassoon and playing a jaunty, racist melody.

The raids are nothing new. I urge you all to read and share this story from SandiaElectrica from three years ago, where the same causes for concern have been happening. It happened to her family again, only a few days ago.

This is Britain now, and it is a Britain which many white people will remain unaware of. A Britain steeped in racism, a fascist Britain where state bullies harass and intimidate people of colour, dragging them away to rot in detention centres if they are considered “illegal”. No human being is illegal, and yet the state considers some people’s mere existence to be illegal, and so do the dribbling racists who hang off their every word. They claim their concerns about immigration do not make them racist, except they are completely and utterly wrong. The state has played off of their racism, and amplified it and tickled them with glee.

We mustn’t look away from these horrors that are happening, feeling that it is a hopeless battle we are fighting. Instead, we must address what is happening head-on. First of all, if we see these raids and stops in progress, it is important that people know their rights. As this article points out, immigration officers actually have fairly little power and have basically been pushing it and abusing it. While it’s worth reading the whole thing, here are some important things you can do if you witness or are victim of any of these spot checks:

Do not change the speed of your walking or suddenly change direction. Maintain a steady pace. Do not hang back from the barriers. Do not behave confrontationally or aggressively. Enter into the conversation willingly, and then state that you are aware of your rights and can walk away unless the officer can give a reason for having reasonable suspicion of your status.

Use your phone to film the entire encounter. Any officer who speaks to you must identify themselves verbally and by producing a warrant card. They must explain their reason for questioning you.

At this point ask them what gave them reasonable suspicion to have stopped you. They must tell you that you are not obliged to answer any questions. They must tell you that you are not under arrest and are free to leave at any time. If they fail to do any of these things, tell them.

Make sure you clearly record the identification number of the officer. Sometimes this will be covered up or not present – it’s a common tactic. Insist on knowing the number before you cooperate with the officer. If at any point you decide to leave they cannot pursue you unless they have sufficient basis to arrest you under paragraphs 17(1) & 16(2) of Schedule 2 or of the Immigration Act 1971, or if you satisfy section 28A of the Act.

If you are not being questioned – and if you are white and middle class that is very likely – you can still help. You can record everything. You can inform people of their rights when they are stopped by officers. You can take people’s contact details if they are stopped. If there is a case against them, a failure of protocol by the officer will be relevant. You can get a useful fact-sheet of your rights for printing out and handing to people here.

Tell your story. Bear witness, and tell other people’s stories, while maintaining their privacy by not giving out any of their details. Amplify and signal boost the stories of others who have suffered through this. Join a local anti-fascist group and discuss coordinating responses–maybe you might like to follow the example of Southall Black Sisters, or maybe distribute information?.

We need to create an environment where it is impossible for people to look away from what is happening, the repeated harassments and attacks on people for the colour of their skin. This needs to be absolutely fucking everywhere, these stories, this information for how to cope. We need to challenge the state repeatedly, every day, through any action we see fit to take.

If you have your own story, please leave it here, and I will signal boost it. It is so important that people hear about what is going on beneath their radars. I firmly believe that most people are decent, and that most will be horrified when they realise what is happening. Of course, there’s the dribbling racists, but they were beyond help in the first place.

Don’t look away from what is happening in Britain. It is silence that allows abuse to thrive.

Projects people are working on:
Anti-raids network Providing information and support for victims of raids.

Listen to our story A theatre project, telling the stories of asylum seekers

Stories:
Pensive Observer talks about UKBA racism
Yasin Bangee on fears about coming to London


Response to Home Office consultation on stop and search

The Home Office is running a consultation on stop and search powers. You can get involved by filling in the online form here. Yes, I am inciting you to engage with the government. I participated. I didn’t even swear. Here’s my responses.

Q1. 

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the use of police powers of stop and search is effective in preventing and detecting crime and anti-social behaviour?

Strongly disagree

Recent data show that stop and search has a 9% arrest rate, which suggests that the overwhelming majority of stop and searches have no ability whatsoever to detect crime and anti-social behaviour. Furthermore, as I understand it, stop and search powers were granted to stop crime rather than anti-social behaviour so I fail to understand why you have included it in this question.

Q2. 

What are, in your view, the types of crime and anti-social behaviour that can be tackled effectively through the application of stop and search powers? Please give reasons.

This provocative tactic does nothing to alleviate problems caused by social conditions which are often constructed by the privileged as “crime and antisocial behaviour”. In fact, it may exacerbate these conditions.

Q3.
To what extent do you agree that the arrest rate following stop and search events is a useful measure of the power’s effectiveness? (please select one)

Neither agree nor disagree.

It is abundantly clear this question was included to merely attempt to smooth over the fact that stop and searches very seldom result in an arrest, a major indicator of their ineffectiveness. However, it is also true that there are less tangible consequences of stop and search, which also point to how utterly damaging this tactic is: for example, many people who participated in the riots considered police stop and search to be a provocation and incitement, and how many people, particularly people of colour, who view stop and search powers to be abused to harass and intimidate them.

Q4. 

In your view, what other things, beyond the number of resulting arrests, should be considered when assessing how effective the powers of stop and search are? Please give reasons.

The impact on communities of stop and search should be considered, in particular racial harassment perpetrated by a predominantly white and institutionally racist police force.

(re: section 1 and section 23) Q5.
To what extent do you agree or disagree that the ‘with reasonable grounds’ stop and search powers, described in the paragraphs above, are used by police in a way which effectively balances public protection with individual freedoms? (please select one) 

Strongly disagree

“Reasonable grounds” needs to be clearly-defined, as at present it appears to be merely applied to groups of people who are already on the receiving end of harassment by police. It ought to be specified. As it is currently defined, it is left up to the judgment of the institutionally racist police force.

(re section 60) Q6. 

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the ‘without reasonable grounds’ stop and search powers described in the paragraphs above are used by police in a way which effectively balances public protection with individual freedoms? (please select one)

Once again, this “reasonable grounds” must be specified. Furthermore, it is concerning how frequently section 60s are imposed in situations wherein people are dissenting against the state, giving the appearance that they are merely used to quash criticism.

Q7. 

To what extent do you agree that it is right that the police are under a national requirement to record the information set out above in respect of each stop and search? (please select one)

Strongly agree

If anything, the police must be required to go further in setting out their reasons for conducting the stop and search, going into detail as to why they chose to target that specific individual. It ought to be a time-consuming process in order to discourage police from abusing their power.

It is also important that the confidentiality of people who are stop and searched is maintained, and therefore it is important that police conducting stop and searches are honest that people are not required to give names or identifying details. At present, they often lie about this, which can be seen as a method of surveillance.

Q8. 

In your view, should government require police forces to record stop and search events in a certain way (for example, using particular technology) or are individual forces better placed to make this decision? Please give reasons.

As described above, police should be required to give exhaustive reasoning every time they are tempted to conduct a stop and search to discourage abuse of power. Use of technology would be unwelcome, however, as this would further contribute to the view that they are using stop and search as an elaborate data-gathering exercise.

Q9. 

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “I am confident that the police use stop and search powers fairly to prevent and detect crime and anti-social behaviour?” (please select one)

Strongly disagree

Given the discrepancy of how many people of colour are searched compared to how many white people are searched, it would appear that stop and search powers are racially-motivated. Furthermore, section 60 powers appear to be used largely to harass dissenters rather than prevent crime. They appear to be provocative rather than preventive.

Q10. 

What would give you greater confidence in the police’s use of stop and search powers? Please give reasons.

If they stopped using them, as apparently they cannot be trusted with this power.

Q11. 

To what extent do you agree or disagree that the current requirement to explain the reasons for the stop and search make the use of the power more fair and transparent? (please select one)

Strongly disagree

As operationalised, police fail to give adequate explanation and also fail to inform citizens of their rights in the face of these searches. Many citizens emerge from stop and searches none the wiser as to why they were targeted and with the strong suspicion they were chosen because the police had taken against them.

Q12. 

Before today, had you heard of the police.uk website? (please select one)

No.

Q13. 

To what extent do you agree or disagree that police.uk should contain information on stop and search in your local area? (please select one)

Strongly agree

The site should contain data on how many people were stop and searched, and how many of these stop and searches resulted in a complete lack of finding anything, so that citizens have better information to make up their own minds about how ineffective at its stated purpose stop and search power is. Broken down at a local level, citizens may also be able to see trends in why searches are conducted in their area and who is targeted and draw conclusions about any possible racial bias.

Q14.
To what extent do you agree or disagree that local communities should have direct involvement in deciding how the police use their stop and search powers? (please select one)

Neither agree nor disagree

It is an unfortunate fact of life that those who are more likely to participate in such civic processes are also those who are least affected by police violence. I agree that those who are most likely to find themselves victims of the police should have a greater say, but in practice, it is likely that it will merely be white middle-class people making these decisions with no knowledge of the realities of how the police behave towards people who are not like them.

Q15. 

In your view, how might local communities be directly involved in decisions concerning the use of stop and search powers? Please give reasons.

In general, the police must be held to account better. It can take decades for accountability to happen through the IPCC: the process is repeatedly stalled and shrouded in secrecy. This must change in order to give communities the ability to get better involved in decisionmaking.

Q16. 

Are there are any other views or comments that you would like to add in relation to stop and search powers that were not covered by the other questions in this consultation?

Ask yourselves: why do so many people think that all coppers are bastards?


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