By Michael S. Pike (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Principles of Policing
A parallel situation had occurred in the St Paul's area ofBristol in Aprill980 when a group of black youths resented a police raid on a local cafe where warrants had been executed under the Licensing Act and Misuse of Drugs Act. While officers were inside the cafe, a crowd gathered and became more hostile as the numbers increased. The police were then attacked with stones and other missiles and were under virtual siege in the cafe. Assistance was sought from other areas of Bristol and a group of 20 officers succeeded in rescuing their colleagues in the cafe but not before a police vehicle had been overturned by a group of 12 black youths and set on fire.
The independence of the police from political or other control, though not totally accepted, is nevertheless well established but this independence does not give the police the right to act irresponsibly. They are accountable in many ways and it has already been stressed that one of the most important regulating factors is that the police must secure public approval for their actions. It is, therefore, not surprising that when Lord Scarman conducted his enquiry into the Brixton Disorders in 1981 he should refer to 'two well-known principles of policing a free society'.
The success of the propaganda campaign was also due to the high level of sensitivity in the area and the general belief, fuelled by rumour, that the police were conducting a conscious campaign of intimidation and harassment. The effect of the unchallenged statements forming the basis of the working party's report was summarised by Lord Scarman who had no doubt that the style, language and contents of the report succeeded only in worsening community relations with the police. He was also satisfied that it reflected attitudes, beliefs and feelings widely prevalent in Lambeth since 1979.