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The myth of institutional racism

Sir Iain Livingston should retract his remarks about Scottish police

Artillery Row

There is a video circulating online of a group of police officers struggling to detain two young black Londoners. It is so shocking in the number of failures in the footage that I had to check to see if it had been created by a right-wing AI.

It’s a little peek into the depressing consequences of diversity hiring

You can watch it here. First, those under arrest: one appears to be a schoolgirl no older than perhaps twelve, the other a schoolboy of similar age. Both are struggling against detention successfully, because the people deployed to do the job are not physically capable of it.

The police failing to arrest people due to their own frailty is no longer a surprise, since the Met dropped its strength test and height requirement whilst making the fitness test a light jog that must be conducted for approximately 2 minutes. One of the constables in the clip appears aware of his incapacity as a physical force. So he simply walks around the scene gesticulating in a pathetic manner whilst his female colleagues get thrashed about by the schoolkids.

I don’t know what they did or why they were being stopped, but they were winning the fight. As is often the case in instances of youths being stopped by the police, a crowd soon gathers and attempts to intervene with the law, yelling at the constables.

The whole scene is an intense dose of social decay distilled into two minutes of misery. It’s a little peek into the depressing consequences of social engineering and diversity hiring.

Despite scenes like these occupying more space in our collective consciousness via ubiquitous Twitter and TikTok clips of policing struggle sessions, the dominant conversation in media and in politics on policing is that the institution is severe, malicious, and institutionally racist and sexist.

Last week, Police Scotland became the latest force in the country to have its leadership publicly claim that it is institutionally racist. The statement by Sir Iain Livingstone QPM, Police Scotland’s chief constable, is remarkable.

He urges the “service” — not “force”, a term dropped by policing after much HRification — to “address gaps and challenge bias, known or unwitting, at every level, wherever bias occurs”. There are demands for more inclusion, to further the “inclusive teams”, and he notes how diversity is a “great strength of policing in Scotland”. There are references to the “LGBTI community”. (“I” is for “Intersex”, if you didn’t know).

I used to live in Scotland, where I took a degree in philosophy. Reading Sir Iain’s statement about the “institutional discrimination” supposedly rife in the country and the corresponding urge for “identifying and removing the deep-rooted barriers” brought me back to my undergraduate days. You could easily replace the senior copper’s signature for that of a social justice-obsessed sociologist, and no eyebrows would be raised.

Sir Iain closes by saying that Police Scotland is committed to building “fairness, equality and justice”. This political triptych immediately brought back memories of Corbyn at his peak, when he was regularly opining that the Labour Party was for those who believe in “fairness, equality and social justice”.

The chief constable should be familiar with the requirement to provide evidence

Sir Iain’s self-flagellation and plea for reform is shocking, due to the gulf between his perspective and reality. A Scottish Government report titled “Ethnicity in the justice system”, published in April, found that “people from all minority ethnic groups are more likely to hold positive views of the police than the national average”. It also concluded that “people from minority ethnic groups tend to have more positive views of the justice system than the national average”, and that “the majority of people who had had personal interactions with the police in the last twelve months are satisfied with how the police handled the situation. Levels of satisfaction do not vary by ethnicity”.

If Police Scotland really were institutionally racist, sexist, misogynistic, discriminatory or any other terms of denigration that Sir Iain might have used to describe his service, then these findings would be vastly different. The chief constable used to be a detective, so he should be familiar with the requirement to provide evidence for such claims. In his statement, he makes no such effort to do so.

His outburst is even more bizarre by virtue of the claim that the term “institutional racism” can be “misrepresented as … personal critical assessments of police officers and police staff as individuals”. He continues: “Does institutional discrimination mean our police officers and police staff are racist and sexist? No. It absolutely does not.”

Well, then what does it mean? Where did Sir Iain find all of this institutional racism? In the boot of a police van? Or perhaps it was tucked away in an Aberdeenshire evidence room? The whole claim is a political sham, reflective of an activist-flooded state that has gone wildly out of control.

The statement positively reeks of a dreadful cocktail of Instagram-tier takes mixed in with the hectoring sludge of uber-progressive plainchant. Take this section in particular: “Publicly acknowledging these institutional issues exist is essential to our absolute commitment to championing equality and becoming an anti-racist Service. It is also critical to our determination to lead wider change in society.” Since 2020, it has become routine for a certain class of unbearable activists to comment that it is not enough simply not to be racist, we must in fact become “anti-racist”. What they usually mean by this, however, is that people must systematically denigrate country, history and freedom.

A senior police officer repeating this language and calling for “wider change in society” should be as professionally shameful as a senior civil servant in Whitehall demanding the overthrow of capitalism: they are extreme left-wing positions that should be chastised, not given the legitimacy of the state.

Has there been a sudden uptick in racist incidents and institutional cover-ups?

Livingstone announced his retirement in February. He will leave office this summer. This smearing of his institution is his parting gift. It has not been received kindly by others who hold the office of Constable. David Threadgold, of the Scottish Police Federation, told the BBC that officers were “deeply offended” by the pronouncement, adding that many officers had told him that they believed their jobs had become more difficult as a consequence of Sir Iain’s words. The boss said that his statement that Police Scotland is institutionally racist and discriminatory “can, and should, be a source of confidence and optimism for officers and staff”. Funnily enough, they don’t appear to agree.

His statement has also been met with confusion from some parliamentarians. Kenny MacAskill MP wrote for The Scotsman last week, “As Justice Secretary from 2007–14, I can safely say that at no stage was it ever suggested to me that Police Scotland or the predecessor regional constabularies were institutionally racist, sexist or misogynistic. No Chief Constable, police authority, staff union or federation raised it with me. Indeed, I sense there would have been consternation had I suggested it, but it never crossed my mind to do so as I had no such view or fears.”

You might point out that MacAskill left the post in 2014, but has there been a sudden uptick in racist incidents and institutional cover-ups since? No. What has surged in popularity, instead, is the particularly Western urge to paint every person, place, institution and country as being consumed with race hate, without the slightest evidence.

The Metropolitan Police is caught in a fight to desperately resist the “institutionally racist” tag that Louise Casey foisted on it in March. Police Scotland’s shameful capitulation to this wholly false activist rhetoric of spin and deception will make that battle even harder. If Sir Iain does not retract his claim, we can only hope that we never hear from him again. Good riddance.

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