Some of Britain’s police chiefs are in a total pickle when it comes to race, not least as a result of them rushing to embrace critical race theory and anti-racist ideology in the wake of George Floyd’s death in the United States in 2020. Whether actually captured, or simply pretending to be, they have committed policing to a political course that risks ending very badly.
The latest development has seen a police force agreeing to fund a bursary for a law student, but only if they are ‘British African’. At a time when many of our public institutions are happy for you to identify however you like, something tells me that a more traditional interpretation will be applied to this term.
It will come as no surprise to many that it was the British Transport Police (BTP) that thought this was a grand idea. A week ago, they were criticised for acting like private security for a group of flag-waving Chinese tourists who demanded a man stop filming in London’s St Pancras station.
The BTP’s bursary idea was originally suggested by activists who had understandably been calling for convictions based on the evidence of a corrupt, criminal, and racist BTP officer in the 1970s to be quashed. Last week, the Court of Appeal delivered their verdict and quashed the convictions.
In the accompanying statement to the press, the BTP’s chief constable, Lucy D’Orsi, rightly described the actions of the corrupt racist officer – Derek Ridgewell – as ‘simply inexcusable’. But she also went much further, agreeing to fund a bursary and talking about ‘systemic racism’ and ‘Afriphobia’. She offered her ‘sincere apology for the trauma caused to the British African community’.
Combating racism is an important cause, of course – but the BTP’s response is no solution: seeing everything as racist is dumb, and embracing a new -phobia that has been fermenting in activist councils like Bristol and Hackney is unlikely to be helpful.