Defund UK Police + Redistribute Funding for Community Services for Crime Prevention.

Defund UK Police + Redistribute Funding for Community Services for Crime Prevention.

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Elilee Arulkumar started this petition to Boris Johnson (Prime Minister) and

DEFUND THE POLICE AND INVEST INTO COMMUNITIES PETITION DESCRIPTION

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

How many more times do you want to have to protest and fight to achieve justice for those murdered at the hands of police brutality? Even once the murderers of George Floyd are imprisoned, this fight will not be over. To fight crime, we don’t need more on foot policing. Shift money from police towards services that meet the needs that have not been met by people which force them into what we define as "crime". We need more jobs, educational opportunities, arts programs, community centres, mental health services/resources, and stronger communities. Police on foot are barely a symptomatic response to crime. If you say ACAB, say it with your chest. There was a time when defunding slavery was a radical, unrealistic proposal; when it was looked upon as an integral part of our economy. Remember this; keep it in mind. Change is the sole, constant thing integral in the history of human civilisation. Please read this statement outlining why the system should be changed, how we should change it, and some counters against the most popular misconceptions regarding the proposals at hand.

 

 

WHY WE SHOULD DEFUND

 

 

It is now generally agreed upon that racism in the US, UK, and globally is a systemic issue, and that the police enforce this hierarchy of racism. Whether this is through racist laws, racist policing in terms of higher policing in areas with higher BAME populations, or simply by contributing to a culture of white supremacy. 

However; just in case you disagree with this point, I’d like to point you in the direction of the Macpherson report, which at the end of the last century led to the widespread acceptance of the claim that “policing practice in the UK is institutionally racist”. 

In the UK black people are 9 times more likely to be stopped and searched, 3 times more likely to be arrested, 5 times more likely to be victims of police brutality, and perhaps most poignantly whilst only making up 14% of the UK population, they make up 25% of the prison population. 

People are realising more than ever that the police were designed to protect private property over life. The phrases ACAB and TSIF are being thrown around more and more every day. I’m sure I don’t have to persuade you that the UK as well suffers from an ingrained sense of racism – you’d only have to look at the Grenfell or Windrush scandals in recent years to find proof of this. The UK Government continued to pay past slave owners ‘reparations’ for ‘loss of property’ as late as 2015 – in other words, black taxpayers continued to pay slave owners for their freedom not even a full decade ago. Perhaps the most pertinently illustrated instance of racism by both media coverage as well as police funding is the case of how Shukri Abdi’s case was dismissed within 10 hours, and yet we’ve poured 13 years and over £12million into the case of Madelaine McCann. Which also interestingly seems to resurface into the news cycle almost every time a controversial happening, and in this case, one that could lead to anti-governmental protests. begins to gain traction in other more informal outlets; such as social media.

Ask yourself how many more Mark Duggan’s have to die. How many more times does the world have to protest and collectively mourn about the loss of another man due to race? The solution that has been touted around for decades is reform, reform, reform. Quite frankly, if reform worked; it would have worked before. Look at Minneapolis for example. The state famous for announcing reform is where the murder of George Floyd took place. 

The UK has claimed to “fix” the issues involving “institutionalised racism” put forward by the Macpherson report. Although the Met Police have technically implemented 67/70 of the suggestions into law, the problem remains. Leroy Logan, the ex-chairman of the National Black Police Association, has noted that “They [the Met Police] are still institutionally racist”. Macpherson recognised that the problems were broader than “individual acts of racism”. It is for this reason that simply by “keeping police accountable” and the existence of the IOPC in investigating police conduct is simply not enough. Additionally, it is important to note that the IOPC (IPCC at the time) have come under fire repeatedly even though they are supposedly independent – notably in the case of the supposed “suicide” of reggae artist, Smiley Culture.

The problem is systemic. Systemic issues cannot be reformed to fixation, as they were built to not aid the oppressed. If you had a car engine was not working due to a manufacturing defect – it is not broken and you cannot get it “fixed”; instead, you must replace it. Defund the police, and invest in our communities; for better, more sustainable alternatives. 

Even if you disagree with the previous premises (the systemic racism and upholding of oppression that the police by nature are a part of); it is categorically undeniable that better alternatives to policing that are consequently more sustainable exist and could be implemented with correct measures of redirecting investment. These community-based, non-violent alternatives that treat roots of problems rather than punishing symptoms, are, for lack of a better word, superior to the current structure in place. 

Every crime has causation - barely any crimes are random. The police don't get to solve the root of the problem; they attempt - and to be honest, they poorly attempt - to fix symptoms. This is unsustainable. The crimes that aren't random are often white-collar, and quite frankly it's easy to be cynical of if the police do deal with them either. "The rich get richer and the poor get prison". 

Moreover, think of the last time a police officer came in a short time to help a problem. I imagine you’ll struggle. Is this efficient? No – and I’d argue that throwing more money into the pool won’t aid the problem either. Often people from BAME communities don’t even call the police to fix domestic disputes, and instead call help from communities – not just because of the inefficiency of the Met, but also because they have helped more in the past and because of the intimidation and fear that police will make issues worse. 

Yet, whilst funding for mental health services and benefits, all which likely contribute to an increase of crime has fallen, the funding for police officers and the call for increased police officers have risen among Parliament. Already for 2020/21 spending an additional ‘£750 million “for policing to begin delivery of the government’s commitment to recruit 20,000 additional officers by 2023”’ has been announced. 

Essentially; if the police aren’t efficiently helping people, they incite fear into people of colour, and there are much more sustainable things we could be investing resources into such as the prevention of crime by decreasing the cause – ask yourself why we continue to fund the police. In fact; why are we funding the police when we’ve been cutting education and benefits for years? Why is it that the best argument for the keeping of the police infrastructure as it is in the UK is that they ‘maintain peace’ by patrolling – is this not essentially an argument for the loss of freedom? Why are we only being kept peaceful when there are people at your neck if you don’t? Do you not think that this argument – that police keep the peace – is not just an argument for the instillation of fear of the prison system into people’s heart? Moreover, why is it that we must believe that people are always being the worst – surely this negative belief in human nature is symptomatic in an unhealthy society? The basis for health in a community is trust, and this argument for police illustrates an underlying lack of trust. Is this not just amoral? I urge you to think about why you value the police – because if you wanted to prevent crime, you shouldn’t be doing this through simply deterrence and fear. You should be doing this by actively giving people opportunities and not allowing them to fall to “crime” – whether this is through education or social working. 

Moreover, why is it that we send police forces to scenes of crime where more often than not, social workers or mental health consultants would likely be much more apt to serving?

In this way, these proposals would allow not just the prevention of crime, but the much more efficient handling of it as well.

 

 

“In moments of crisis, people want services and resources that go directly to help people rather than the police that surveil, brutalize and kill us,” said Melina Abdullah

"scaling police budgets back and reallocating those resources to other agencies" - Lynda Garcia "A lot of what we advocate for is an investment in community services — education, medical access… You can call it ‘defunding,’ but it’s just about directing or balancing the budget in a different way."

"The concept is simple: When cities start investing in community services, they reduce the need to call the police in instances when police officers’ specific skill set isn’t required. “If someone is dealing with a mental health crisis, or someone has a substance abuse disorder, we are calling other entities that are better equipped to help these folks,” Garcia says." (Rolling Stones) 

U.S. BLM #DefundThePolice campaign – “George Floyd’s violent death was a breaking point — an all too familiar reminder that, for Black people, law enforcement doesn’t protect or save our lives. They often threaten and take them."

"The police do not prevent crime. This is one of the best kept secrets of modern life. Experts know it, the police know it, but the public does not know it. Yet the police pretend that they are society’s best defence against crime and continually argue that if they are given more resources, especially personnel, they will be able to protect communities against crime. This is a myth." David Bayley

“The reality is that the police exist primarily as a system for managing and even producing inequality by suppressing social movements and tightly managing the behaviours of poor and nonwhite people: those on the losing end of economic and political arrangements…”The police represent the point of contact between the coercive apparatus of the state and the lives of its citizens." In the words of Mark Neocleous, police exist to "fabricate social order", but that order rests on systems of exploitation – and when elites feel that this system is at risk, whether from slave revolts, general strikes or crime and rioting in the streets, they rely on the police to control those activities..” – The End of Policing

 

 

 

 

TYPES OF CRIME AND WHY THE POLICE AREN'T THE WAY TO SOLVE THEM.

 

 

 

Say your house gets burgled. Ask yourself why the burglar did it. Was it to support his community due to financial difficulty or was it because of a drug addiction; ask yourself why? Policing does not get to the root of these problems. It attempts to treat symptoms. Better alternatives include: better community support and more investment into mental health services so that people can recognise issues before they fully take root.
Say you're a domestic abuse victim. Notice how many victims continue to not speak out and go to the police. (It is thought that only 18% report) Is this because they fear worse consequences will happen? Say the perpetrator goes to prison, but when they come out; what if the beating continues at a worse rate? Ask yourself why so many rape victims never tell the police. There is some kind of disconnect and conception that police will make things worse. Moreover, wouldn’t the implementation of sending a mental health consultant or a crisis advisor be more beneficial here? Surely this is a stellar illustration of an inefficient allocation of resources that would be better put to use in other areas. 
·        And finally; white collar crimes. Why do so many white-collar crimes go unpunished? Why is it that all arguments for policing are against minorities/working-class people? White collar crimes such as embezzlement are far more costly to any economy than blue collar. “White collar criminals benefit from institutionalised non-enforcement practices, regulatory policies and legal representation not available to street criminals”. Surely, we need to be redirecting the focus of our justice system to people who break the law and don't even do it to support themselves/other people. Surely, this is our duty in society. Ask yourself who the police are protecting, and ask yourself why they continue to fight for these billionaires. Moving on from white collar crime, ask yourself why companies can wreak havoc on the environment/our ecosystem and aren't held accountable but petty crimes, or sometimes no crimes, involving black people, lead to their deaths. 

 

 

HISTORY OF WHAT THE POLICE WAS BUILT FOR

 

 

The upholding of the police is the upholding of private property>life and additionally, the oppression and demonisation of marginalised working class/BAME communities. The Met Police had only been established in the 19th century, and one of their first deployments was for Bloody Sunday. The reason for their deployment was to halt the protest against coercion and unemployment in Northern Ireland. Whilst it began as peaceful, the deployment of these officers most certainly was the cause of the violence and led to the deaths of many.

It was Sir Robert Peel that created the Met. “Peel developed his ideas while managing the British colonial occupation of Ireland and seeking new forms of social control that would allow for continued political and economic domination in the face of growing insurrections, riots and political uprisings. For years, such "outrages" had been managed by the local militia and, if necessary, the British Army. However, colonial expansion and the Napoleonic Wars dramatically reduced the availability of these forces just as resistance to British occupation increased. Furthermore, armed troops had limited tools for dealing with riots and other forms of mass disorder. Too often they were called upon to open fire on crowds, creating martyrs and further inflaming Irish resistance.” Clearly, the Met was created in the image of the army to brutalise, but with the added supposed, but not true, legitimacy of policing.

Moreover, we claim that the UK is not like America in that whilst in America the police stemmed from slave patrols, this is not the same for the UK. However, the Boston model actually imported the model of the Met police, which really stemmed to exert force onto people based from Peel’s experience doing so in Irish colonies.

These are just some of the instances from historical precedents suggesting that the police are here to protest the ruling class, the government, and private property – they are not here to protect the general public, primarily at least. If that was the case, they’d certainly prosecute white-collar crime to the same extent blue collar crime is in this country. Moreover, there is nothing that the police can do that community services cannot do better. We must invest in communities and build better support networks. Redirect this investment to these services, please.

 

 

 

alternatives to implement

 

 

 

The learning and sharing of conflict mediation skills
The Practising of Restorative Justice
More Street Medics
The Development of Crisis Networks
Investment into social work - where workers are dispatched to 911 calls involving mental health emergencies (already implemented in Dallas and shocking that this isn't the case more globally)
Redirection of salaries of officers that simply patrol 'high-risk' (code for BAME perhaps) areas to fund plans to keep residents safe.
Could also use this money to pay for funding of community programmes, employment, UBI etc, which would likely decrease the rate of crime anyway. It is largely accepted that the reason why BAME communities do commit ‘more crime’ is because of both racial profiling, as well as historic socioeconomic disadvantages that this policy would aim to neutralise.
REFRAMING OF JUSTICE TO BE FURTHER DEFINED BY COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABILITY RATHER THAN PENAL PUNISHMENT WHICH DOES NOT IDENTIFY ROOTS OF PROBLEMS. (this already exists in many ethnic communities! much of these communities do not rely upon policing when solving internal disputes for either fear of police/knowledge that they know their own communities better and have superior solutions. Examples of this include known instances of domestic abuse, drug addictions, child abuse etc.)
 

 

 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE SCRAPPED

 

 

 

According to Dr Elliot Cooper – the first department that should be divested from the Met is the one that targets BAME communities the hardest for little to no large effect on public safety. The end of drug policing and drug stop and searches. It is incredibly intensive and attacks POC 4x more than white people. Prevent, the counter=terrorism initiative employing heavy use of surveillance, has also been proven to radicalise non-white communities. Not only does it take up huge amounts of communications infrastructure, but it also does not prevent terrorism to a high enough extent for this to be justified. We must also re-evaluate how we target gang crime – the way we do it now just targets and criminalises black people. And finally – we must halt the hostile environment policy. This one needs no explaining. The raiding of institutions simply to find the undocumented is a massive waste of resources and so obviously violently racist that has made little to no effect upon the safety of the general public other than the instillation of fear into people from BAME communities. Instead; invest in women’s refuges, youth services, and mental health infrastructure.

 

 

IS THIS ENOUGH?

 

 

It is useful to note that this address is targeting those of you that are likely to disagree with the motion based on more conservative/neoliberal beliefs. However, there are warranted concerns from those of you that are liable to disagree with this based on more leftist views such as those of you that want complete abolishment now or those of you that are scared that the defunding of the police will become a ‘liberal’ policy. I would argue that whilst these may be eventual goals, that capitalism requires some kind of state police, prison and on a further level, inequality. Capitalism’s requirement of inequality and the requirement of the protection of private property on some level over life is mostly indisputable. Therefore, the abolishment of the prison industrial complex in this country and globally requires the dismantling of capitalism. Whatever your view on capitalism may be; I’m sure you’ll agree that that is unlikely to happen in the next three months – even more unlikely than the defunding of the police and the investment into community-based alternatives, of which methods can be implemented in the next 1-3 years. Additionally, the further trivialisation that this policy would make of the present carceral system would likely help your cause.

 

 

conclusion 

 

 

Understandably, this is a slightly controversial policy - and so disagreement is inevitable. I am currently working on a more fully-fledged resource as to why defunding should be implemented in the UK, and how to achieve this target without catastrophe. Currently, most resources that do exist are either informal, lesser-known, or simply targeted to the US. 

In conclusion; the police represent a system which has been proven to be systemically and institutionally racist which therefore means that it cannot be reformed into a fixation. This sound premise has led many in America to believe, and hopefully will lead to those of us in the UK to agree, with the removal of the police system as it is today. Instead, we should move into investing and funding for alternatives, not limited to, but including the ones I have discussed earlier in this. Defund the police, and invest into communities.

 

 

Common misconceptions about my proposals

These are direct quotes

 

 

 

“Britain is not institutionally racist”

 

 

‘Colonialism built Britain. Imperialism built capitalism. Therefore Empire = Good.’

We were taught this fact to make us think positively about empire. It gave us the world we have today - it built capitalism and the world today would be inconceivable without it. We were taught that this was a ‘pro’ of the empire. Surely this is a suggestion that we need to change? A system built off of oppression – which colonialism surely is – is one that isn’t malfunctioning now, but one that was built off of the blood of POC, that never stood for them, that always sought to oppress them. Policing is one of the primary concepts that oppress us further, and one that we can change by implementing these things.

 

 

“Policing in Britain is not institutionally racist”

 

 

If Britain is institutionally racist, institutions built in Britain to “protect” are by extension, only protecting those it was built to protect – i.e. White, wealthy people. 

If you still don’t believe UK policing is institutionally racist, please look at the Macpherson report. I name drop this in particular as it is a famous example of the public inquiry into the reasons for the death of Stephen Lawrence. Sir William MacPherson concludes that the killing had been marred by a combination of both professional incompetence and institutionalised racism. Alternative techniques for policing would lead to more competent treating of crime by enlisting the help of mental health specialists and social workers for non-violent solutions to small problems before they turn into big ones. No crime is without causation, very few crimes at least. moreover, how many times do police show up when you call them right now? As for the institutionalised racism - the decrease in police usage will solve this issue. institutionalised problems cannot be solved by simply reforming only by destruction/limitation. if a car engine was not broken but there was a manufacturing defect, you’d just get a new car engine.

 

 

“Some police are good”

 

 

I’m not looking to explain or discuss the meaning of ACAB here. If you disagree with this, please do look into it. Moreover, I am not saying that the protection of communities is a bad thing to prioritise. What I am saying is that there a better, more efficient, more sustainable ways of doing it. A system that essentially is members of a uniformed gang, wielding rubber batons, and occasionally riot gear and horses, patrolling the streets to dissuade people from crime is not the way to do so. We are better than this!

A Telegraph article recently came out, claiming that there is rising “brutality” towards the police. Moreover, the onslaught of highly emotional videos being recorded by chiefs of police in the NYPD that are being shared. 

A leftist may dismiss this as ‘copoganda’. I am not going to try and argue for or against this idea. However; even if individual members of the police and carceral systems are well-intentioned this doesn’t mean much in the long run. A ‘good’ slave-owner is still a slave owner contributing to the system of slavery. In regards to rising ‘brutality’ towards police – the police are much better armed compared to members of the public. 

Moreover, this wouldn’t be an issue in the first place if there wasn’t so much distrust around police. Why do people distrust the police? What can be done to fix this? Of course, the solution is clear. The disbanding of the police and the implementation of a system in which justice can be served and people can be protected by non-violent methods.

 

 

 

“The police in the UK are different to those in America”

 

 

Firstly, the Boston Model that evolved from slave patrols partly, was also just a reworking of Peel’s Met. Secondly, the UK is not innocent. Yes, our officers train longer and are given de-escalation training. That doesn’t mean that the fundamental values of any policing/carceral system in the highly globalised society we live in today haven’t been exported worldwide, and are principally amoral. 

 

 

“The Tories have defunded the police for years, and you’ve been complaining.”

 

 

First of all, I didn’t bring up conservatives or labour. The Tories also divested from educational programs as well as community service programmes and library programmes in general. The Tories introduced austerity. There was no reinvestment or method to tackle crime by them. Also, there’s proof that whilst they did massively defund educational programmes, they did this to a much higher proportion than their defunding to policing, which is completely wrong. Moreover they make up 50% of the budget from crime and justice which is a massive structural issue. The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies illustrates that whilst many in the UK believe we have less police now, we have more now than we had during Thatcher’s miner strikes.

 

 

“Public presence of police keeps the peace. Reducing the number of ‘boots on the ground’ will lead to an increase in crime.”

 

 

I’m saying reinvestment into alternatives for policing. in the past we’ve seen austerity and defunding with no reinvestment. We need to be channelling energy into things that reduce crime instead of simply fear. Rehabilitation needs to be seen as more important. Deterrence does not do enough. Your argument almost boils down to “we need police because they encourage fear”. I’m sure you can understand that that’s not how we should be doing things. We need more effective solutions. Moreover, I could point you to a case study where the NYPD went on strike for a day to show the city how necessary they were and crime fell. However, this was only one time and in America. Nonetheless, still quite a funny case study, I’m sure you’ll appreciate.

 

 

“People feel safe when there’s presence around.”

 

 

Well, lots of white people certainly feel safe. This is not the same for a large proportion of people of colour; particularly those from lower middle/lower class backgrounds, and ones without a background of privilege and wealth. But fine, let’s say we feel safe when there’s presence around. There won’t be “No presence” - there will be a presence but not in the form of the police. rather, community counsellors and social workers. a society in which we must actively enforce violent police force to suppress people for the “sake of peace” is one in which there needs to be better education so that people aren’t violent and don’t need to be suppressed. your line of argument illustrates that we must change how we view policing; rather than essentially a gang patrolling around cities to “maintain order” we need more community support to treat problems, not symptoms. 

 

"Quite simply, the perpetuation of institutional racism is reliant upon the dominant ethnic group in any institution preserving their power base. Therefore, the dismantling of institutional racism is reliant upon the dominant ethnic group either voluntarily relinquishing some of that power, or being coerced or compelled to do so" - Paul Wilson.

 

 

“We don’t want anarchy.”

 

 

First of all, you have used the term “anarchy” incorrectly. According to Emma Goldman anarchy is defined as “The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man-made law; the theory that all forms of government rest on violence, and are therefore wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.” Moreover, this is not what the defunding of the police would definitively lead to. If by ‘anarchy’ you mean chaos and lawlessness, you are also mistaken. The proposals I’ve outlined would only decrease the fear instilled into the hearts of people from BAME communities felt towards the judicial system in this country, and is likely to decrease the rates of violence, and therefore, chaos, because of the higher rates of intervention at a young age by counsellors to prevent ‘risky’ and ‘dangerous’ behaviour from developing in the first place.

 

 

 

“The ideas you present have never actually reduced crime.”

 

 

The ideas presented have never actually been given the chance. Nothing similar has ever been implemented in the UK.

 

 

 

“It’s hard to reinvest when there’s no magic money tree.”

 

 

In regards to your concern with the lack of money - my plans would require redistribution of funding elsewhere and also perhaps some higher taxation. However, in the long run, if this were to work, it would likely save money due to the projected decrease in more violent crimes and policing. Furthermore, I could dispute your claim about the lack of a ‘magic money tree’. We’ve bailed out countless rich businesses in the time of corona. Perhaps this money tree just exists for the wealthy. But who am I to judge?

 

 

 

I'd also like to finish with the fact that right now you could be burgled or robbed from and the Police as they are today will take a ridiculous time to come. They often won't even investigate. I'm calling for more efficient allocation of resources more than anything. The police aren’t working. Let’s be part of a new world working towards the actualisation of a justice system that is truly just.

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