Community safety is a very important aspect for community cohesion. It is one of the main priorities of the town to ensure “A Borough in which people feel safe and secure” (Cantle 41). However, the strategies and practices of police in multicultural areas have been always controversial and very often criticised. As John Solomos explains, since the 1970s the role of policing has been widely debated in British society. Since the arrival of ‘undesirables’ from the colonies to Britain, crime has been very often imputed to them. The images were that “the areas in which they lived were seen as localities in which an immigrant presence combined with social deprivation and poverty to produce not only patterns of criminal behaviour but also social values outside the mainstream of the majority society” (Solomos, 1993: 120). Conflict between the police and immigrants has always been the issue, though there have been some efforts of the government to deal with the discriminatory practises of the police. The frequent stereotyped attitudes of the police only caused that the immigrants felt more anger and were resentful of authorities in the society where they did not gain a feeling of belonging. Lack of communication and distrust on both sides only led to increasing crime and violence.
The situation in Oldham concerning the policing is very similar. The Ritchie Report states that the relations between the police and the public are mostly good, but this is not the truth in the case of the Asian community. “Perceptions among Asian youth are that the police are partial and discriminatory, disrespectful, indulge in racist language and are sympathetic to far right extremists” (Ritchie 41).
The main objectives in Oldham are to reduce drug and alcohol consumption among youths, to reduce crime among the youths, which means both racist crime and violent crime, and to reduce burglary and car crimes (Ritchie 42). The special emphasis is put on trust recovery to the police from the community.
As for the statistics, immediately after the riots, Oldham recorded the highest amount of racist attacks in the whole Greater Manchester. However, there are doubts whether the statistics can be considered as reliable. As Ahmed claims in the essay, one of the reason which questions the accuracy of the figures is their confidentiality meaning that there is no access to the figures to verify them. It is also stressed that racism has an influence on police recording and very often leads to under-reporting of crimes that would have to be recorded as racially-motivated. “In Oldham this is a genuine problem that, combined with intense distrust of a police force that is clearly institutionally racist, has led to the systematic under-reporting of racially-motivated crimes committed against the Asian community”(Ahmed 9).
From the investigation it follows that an attack on an Asian victim is not always recorded as a racial one, whereas attacks on whites are regarded as racial attacks immediately. It was also proved that crime figures are manipulated and used for propaganda. Another fact is that the ethnic communities realize the prejudice of the police as it is obvious that the police favoured the whites, not only during the riots of 2001, but before and after them. The outcome of the essay “Managing for Diversity” is that it is not a surprising fact that ‘Asian-on-White’ attacks are reported, whereas Asians ceased to report attacks on them as they felt that it was almost pointless (“Managing for Diversity” 90).
The Ritchie Report suggests that the system of recording the incidents should be improved and annual statistics should be released. This could be achieved under monitoring of Greater Manchester Police as well as voluntary organisations such as the Oldham Race Equality Partnership, the Commission for Racial Equality and local authorities. Another recommendation is to establish a Racist Incidents Panel, a multi-agency group, which would record racial attacks and report to the Crime and Disorder Partnership. The training programmes for police officers should be included, concentrating on management skills and appropriate language usage. More ethnic minority officers should be recruited as there are only 12 out of 402 officers (Ritchie 45).
Mapping the situation of policing five years after the riots, the Cantle Report states that Oldham has made significant progress. This can be supported by some of the figures showing violent crime reduction, also domestic burglaries reduced by 37 per cent and a decrease of 52 per cent is noted in vehicle crime (Cantle 41).The progress was supported by the feedback given during the “Listen and Learn” meetings organized by the Council Leader and Chief Executive. They showed that the question of community safety and policing has improved. On the other hand, as stated in “Managing for Diversity”, the lack of trust is still present in the society and the police is still considered to be biased towards the communities, as a comment of an Asian woman from Oldham suggests, “What do the police do? They’re not interested. They arrive couple of hours after the crime!”(“Managing for Diversity” 92). But in general, judging from the reflections of local people stated in the reports, the relations have improved.
It is also commented on that the police classify all black and minority ethnicities incidents as racist crimes. As a consequence, the National Crime Recording System will check the reporting and other police practices. The police should also improve their relations with Asian communities. It is also pointed out that there is no Independent Advisory Group which would discuss the issues and it is a priority to establish such an institution.
Another way to avoid potential community problems is through the inter-agency Hate Incident Management Group (HIMG) which evaluates local, national and international issues and deals with race-related issues and in case of any threat it suggests steps that are necessary to be taken. Finally, the annual “There’s No Place for Racism in Oldham” campaign aims to catch the attention of the public (Cantle 44).
In general, the police needs to develop an approach to achieve better relations with the communities. The major issue is to tackle the problem of youth gangs and drug abuse. Monitoring of many institutions whether this is ensured is also essential for the improvement of community cohesion. Another trend is to develop a closer relationship with local communities and understand diversity in the communities. A special attention should be given to drug prevention and young people involvement in some activities. It is important to add that after the disturbances of 2001, an emphasis has been placed on community safety and because of that the issue of policing has been one of the crucial areas in the community life.