Wednesday, October 27

The police should play with open cards


  • Habib Kadiri
    Habib Kadiri

    Head of Research and Policy Guidelines at StopWatch UK

A receipt scheme provides a better basis for complaining about misconduct to the police, writes Habib Kadiri.

A receipt scheme is a good solution.

Debate
This is a discussion post. Opinions in the text are the responsibility of the writer.

If a police officer stops you on the street, harasses you, accuses you of something you have not done or taken, and then searches you and finds nothing, did it really happen then?

You have the right to tell people about this very public kind of abuse of power, right? But how will anyone know if no one is documenting the case? This is the simple and undeniable logic of the idea behind the receipt scheme.

Difficult to prove racial discrimination

In the UK, reception orders emerged as a duty of the police, mainly due to pressure from first and second generation immigrants who reacted negatively to the use of so-called sus (sus = suspicion) laws.

They were laws that for years allowed the police to detain and search people suspected of staying. public place for the purpose of committing a criminal act.

Police chiefs at the time denied that there was anything racist about the police using their laws. The police force was also not required to write a report on these arrests, making it difficult to prove racial discrimination.

Of course, the police complain of any additional burden of liability imposed on them.

However, press groups such as the Permanent Conference of the West Indies and the Scrap Sus Campaign succeeded in gather enough evidence to document discrimination in law enforcement. After the April 1981 riots, which were triggered in part by scandalous police violence under the guise of its laws, the government repealed the law on August 27, 1981.

The successor – Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) since 1984 – provided a better balance between individual rights and the power of the police to search.

He forced the police to do a written record on searches, and to inform the person who was registered, of the right to obtain a copy. In addition, in any personal confrontation of this type, they must record the ethnic origin of the registered person.

A better base

Registering and receiving stop and search receipts assures us that ethnic minorities are more exposed than others to this.

For the individual who is considered racially profiled, the order to issue a receipt provides a better basis for complaint about service error with the police.

Of course, the police complain of any additional burden of liability imposed on them. They usually protest against anything that makes their job a little more difficult and the staff a little more responsible.

Between 8 and 17 percent of searches in recent decades have ended in arrest, according to the UK Home Office.

If the rate of police arrests is as bad in Oslo as it is in the British police forces, it is likely that many of the searches with which you do not want to have paperwork are unnecessary in the first place.

Guarantees public access

If the police see themselves as public officials, they should play with open cards. The Oslo Police District must respect the principle of responsibility. It works best when they are subject to mechanisms that guarantee public transparency in what they do.

British police forces agree with this point of view. They accept the requirement of keeping a public record of confrontations with the civilian population, because they understand that it would be hypocritical to hide aspects of this practice from us.

The reception system is a good and practical solution that the Oslo Police should agree to, even if they want the trust of the people they claim to protect and serve.

Translated from English by Bjørg Hellum.


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