Britain’s Cities are not like America’s

A former Police Chief Constable of Kent (2004-10) Michael Fuller, who is a black man, has voiced an opinion in the Guardian newspaper referring to the riots and mayhem in a dozen or more United States cities, that “it could happen here. We have had equally appalling incidents”.

This is utter balderdash on at least four grounds which Mr Fuller should have been aware of when serving in the senior ranks of the UK police force.

First, police in Great Britain on patrol do not carry guns. Nor, unlike in the US, are private citizens allowed to brandish firearms in public streets, let alone fire them.

The 55 police shootings in the UK resulting in deaths since 1996 (24 years), have to be compared with 59 police shootings in the US between 1st January to 24th January (24 days). According to the UK law advocacy group, Inquest, in one terrible 5-month period 19 unarmed black men were shot dead by US police from January to May 2015.

Second, as Horatio pointed out on June 15th on this website, the black proportion of the UK population is really very small – only one fifth of the proportion of black people in the United States, in a population five times as large.

Thirdly, in Britain there is absolutely no equivalent of the burning resentment in sections of the US black population resulting from their original presence as slaves from the very beginnings of the United States.

Black people came to Britain to settle of their own volition, only one to two generations ago. Even today barely a half of the black population in Britain are British-born – 1.8% out of 3.2% of the British populationNote 1.

Fourth, Mr Fuller’s remarks were not mainly about killings, but about stop-and-search in the UK, where misleading comparisons of the numbers of black people stopped in the streets are frequently quoted by self-appointed spokespeople.

This is overwhelmingly an inner cities problem, particularly in the South and South-East of London where black people are 10-15% of the population. But there is a well-known cultural difference – young black people congregate disproportionately more on the streets than do their Asian or English neighbours, so their numbers on some streets can easily exceed 50% – and the stop-and-search figures of around 50% black people stopped and searched reflect that without the need to claim they are due to racial bias. When stop-and-search was suspended for a period, street crime, particularly knife crime went up quite significantly. Almost all elected politicians agreed it should be restored.

Besides the incontestable figures quoted above, Mr Fuller, from his retired position, could think on why, when there has been a tragic police incident involving a black person, as a shooting in Tottenham in 20ll, it has been followed by extensive smashing and burning of commercial property, much of it done by black people, miles from the scene of the incident?

There are layers of investigative bodies, as well as the press, to get at the truth of these rare occurrences, but they are often hampered, as in the 1985 and 2011 Tottenham riots, by the many people present not identifying the culprits. Over to you Mr Fuller!

End Note

Note 1 2011 National Census

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