‘Not my bill’ protest, London ‘Not my bill’ protest, London. Photo: Steve Eason / CC BY-NC 2.0

Steph Pike argues that the racism, misogyny and homophobia now being revealed within the Metropolitan police are very much part of an oppressive system

The Metropolitan Police first patrolled the streets of London in 1829 following the Metropolitan Police Act which was passed into law that same year. National policing quickly followed. It is no coincidence that a police force was formed at the height of the industrial revolution with the ruling class and owners of capital determined to protect their property from theft, and protect them­selves, their interests and their profits from an increasingly organised working class.

From the start, there was opposition from ordinary people to the ‘new police’ because of concerns that it would be used to control the population and clamp down on dissent.

Those fears were not unfounded; from the outset, one of the Met Police’s main priorities was to maintain public order, and they were used to suppress and disrupt Chartist meetings and demonstrations in 1839, 1842 and 1848.

In fact, the first major attack by the police on political radials happened in 1833, under four years after the formation of the Met. The police attack on a public meeting organised by the National Union of the Working Classes was so brutal that even the Times was shocked, reporting that:

‘The police furiously attacked the multi­tude with their staves, felling every per­son indiscriminately before them; even the females did not escape the blows from their batons – men and boys were lying in every direction weltering in their blood and call­ing for mercy.’

From its inception, the Met has also been riddled with corruption.

The story of the police we are sold, of a benign Dixon of Dock Green copper embedded in the community, policing by public consent, is a myth. The police were never there to serve the public; it is an insti­tution set up from its inception to protect the interests of the ruling class and to stamp out dissent and protest.

What we are told is that the police exist to protect us; to prevent and solve crimes. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that they are failing to do this. The police consistently fail to protect women and the black community. Only 7.8% of crimes are solved by the police, with statistics showing that they have never successfully solved crimes with any regularity.

A recent damning report found that the Met Police is still not properly inves­tigating unexpected deaths, describing its methods as incompetent and unprofes­sional. The report concluded that the Met has learned nothing following its botched investigation in 2014 that allowed serial killer Stephen Port to carry on murdering gay men in Barking, East London.

Worse than their failings to protect the public and solve crimes, is the fact that the police are themselves perpetrators of crime, seemingly more likely to attack the public than protect us. Recently the police have been rocked by scandals with story after story appearing of police officers rap­ing and abusing women and sharing foul racist, homophobic and sexist messages on Whatsapp.

Although shocking, this is not news to the black community that both pre and post the murder of Stephen Lawrence, have been systematically harassed, brutalised and murdered by the police.

It is sadly no surprise that in the latest example of brutality, the 92-year–old, dis­tressed woman that the police handcuffed, spit-hooded and threatened to taser is black. Despite report after report condemning the culture and failings of the police, from Ste­phen Lawrence to Sarah Everard, nothing at all has changed.

Although barely a week goes by with­out another police officer in the courts for abusing women, the prosecution of the more extreme criminal elements in the police force will do nothing to change the systemic problems.

Because the problem with the police goes much deeper than institutional rac­ism, misogyny and homophobia. From its inception the police were set up to protect and defend the interests of the ruling class, and that is its function now.

We can see this in its inherent failure to protect the public and solve crime, and in its role in violently suppressing dissent and protest; from its brutality during the min­ers’ strike, to the spy cops scandals where the police infiltrated and spied on left-wing political groups and campaigns, and its cur­rent enforcement of the Tories’ draconian Public Order Bill, which saw the police pre-emptively arrest peaceful protestors on the morning of the king’s coronation.

Despite the protestations of politicians and police chiefs, nothing will change. The police are irreformable; this is not because toxic cultures are too embedded, or it is too difficult; it is because there is no political will for change.

In a political system that exists to enrich a powerful elite at the expense of ordinary working people, the ruling class need a system of control to maintain their position and to enforce their law.

The police are the strong arm and steel toecap of the ruling class; they are the most organised and violent gang in the country. Let’s make sure their days are numbered.

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Steph Pike

Steph Pike a is a revolutionary socialist, feminist and People's Assembly activist. She is also a  published poet. Her poetry collection 'Petroleuse' is published by Flapjack Press.

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