No Justice, No Peace, Abolish the Police

Once again we have been reminded of the role of the Metropolitan Police with the recent BBC documentary and the first report of the Angiolini review on the murder of Sarah Everard by Met firearms cop Wayne Couzens. Couzens is not an isolated instance of criminal behaviour within the Met. We have firearms officer David Carrick who committed a huge number of sexual offences, 49 offences including 24 rapes, making him one of the UK’s most prolific sexual predators. We have Daniel Beegan, part of the Specialist Crime Command, arrested on March 31st last year and charged with sexual assault of a woman in December 2022. We have Perry Lathwood of the Road Traffic Policing Command, charged with the beating of a woman in front of her child, after wrongly being accused of fare evasion; Christopher Brown, trainee detective with the Central North Basic Command Unit, charged with groping a female colleague whilst off duty; Ireland Murdock, also in the Central North Unit, sentenced for rape of a woman.  Adam Provan, of East Area Command Unit, guilty of multiple counts of rapes against two women, one of them a police officer herself, and the other a 16-year old.

Giles Kitchener, who told a deliberate lie, a High Court judge concluded, after he gave evidence on racist assaults by the Territorial Support Group. He then joined the City of London police. He was sacked for a “joke” about the murder of Sarah Everard and other counts of gross misconduct including homophobic and misogynistic comments. He circulated an image of a cop killing a woman on WhatsApp. He was also seen drinking beer at a police station before taking charge of a domestic violence case.

Sgt. Luke Thomas posted foul messages on a WhatsApp account, abusing Chinese people and travellers, Arabs, and disabled people. He spoke sympathetically about Nazis and child killers, and stated that another cop who had got away with rape was “a legend in my eyes.” Seven other cops in a safer neighbourhoods team in Bexleyheath were involved in these abusive comments, including posting offensive videos of disabled people.

Chief Inspector Richard Watkinson killed himself after being charged with conspiracy to distribute or show indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent photos of a child, voyeurism and two counts of  misconduct in public office. Two other former cops were also charged with similar offences related to the Watkinson case.

Hussain Chehab, a Safer Schools officer, was jailed for five years in March  over a series of child sex offences. He committed these offences before he joined the Met. Farhan Ghadiali, charged with sexually assaulting a child. Liam Boshein, sentenced to 42 weeks for having an extreme pornographic image on his phone. Edward Oniba, of North West Basic Command Unit,  guilty of sexually assaulting a female colleague in a police station gym. Special Constable Sergeant Ben Smith, charged with sexual assaults on two women. An unnamed Met cop, charged with performing a sexual act on a train, who escaped with a written warning.

Another serving Met officer, Benjamin Hannam, was convicted of being a member of a neo-Nazi group.

Over the past five years more than 300 officers have been reported for rape and 500 for sexual assault. Only ten of those accused of sexual assault have been convicted. The vast majority – 350 – are still working for the police. More than three quarters of  the 375 officers and staff reported for domestic abuse in the past two and a half years are still working for the police, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The Met was forced to admit that a total of 1,633 cases of alleged sexual offences or domestic violence involving 1,071 officers and other staff are also being assessed from the last ten years to ensure suitable judgements were made.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as it was revealed that an average of  one cop a week  across the UK  is accused of rape.  The Met is riddled with misogyny, racism, homophobia, and thuggery. The police are feared and detested by many in ethnic communities, with daily harassment, especially of young black and Asian men. The recent cases of Couzens and Carrick etc. have now also made many women fearful of the police.

Sir John Woodcock, a former chief constable, and HM Chief inspector of constabulary,  admitted back in 1992 that the police were “a mechanism set up to protect the affluent from what the Victorians described as the dangerous classes”; and David Bayley, an academic expert on the police, stated in 1996 that “The police do not prevent crime. This is one of the best kept secrets of modern life. Experts know it, the police know it, but the public does not know it.”

On the 40th anniversary of the miners’ strike, we remember the brutality of the police, particularly the Met, brought in to crush resistance in mining communities. We see the increasing repression against demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza. We remember the undercover Met cops infiltrated into many political groups and campaigns, who burned down Debenhams stores, had sexual relations with female activists and even had children with them under false pretences.

Abolish the police

Anarchists were the first to look towards the abolition of the police. More recently, this has been taken up by activists around Black Lives Matter in the USA and here.

We are talking about the elimination of an institution that protects the rich and the prevailing social order, that manages and controls the general population. Such an institution would not exist in any humane and just society.

As Connor Woodman, writing on the police, notes: “Vast swathes of police work, including the policing of drugs, homelessness, sex work and borders, could either be eliminated without replacement or rendered redundant by proper investment in individuals and communities. As for those areas of life that might maintain a need for some level of coercion and investigation, there are models of non-state, proletarian organisation that can be looked to for inspiration: the self-defence forces of Rojava, community militias of 1930s Spain, neighbourhood patrols of the Black Panther Party. Ultimately, there may be some vastly reduced, heavy circumscribed functions of what we imagine – falsely – to be the current functions of police and prisons in a future society. We may want a small unarmed detective unit to investigate murders, and we might need some limited and temporary confinement for certain individuals who have been so damaged by society that they are a clear and persistent danger to others. But given that, overwhelmingly, actually-existing policing in capitalist societies exists to enforce an unjust and unequal racial and class order, we should organise for total abolition and the reorganisation of society as a whole.”