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Forceful Irony: Policing & Power

Through the ideas of Stuart Hall, this post looks at the persistent problems of the Metropolitan Police and the complicated relationship between policing, power, and social inequality.

The disquieting revelations revealed by the Guardian today about the Metropolitan Police, as detailed in the forthcoming Casey report, resonate with some of Stuart Hall’s ideas on policing. The report reveals the long-lasting and sneaky problems of sexism, racism, and homophobia in the Met. It shows that these problems are so deep-seated that they haven’t been fixed even though it’s been 20 years since the Macpherson report

Section 6.45 from the Macpherson report shows nothing has changed.
Section 6.45 from the Macpherson report shows nothing has changed

Stuart Hall’s work, especially “Policing the Crisis,” gives important insights into the role of the police in society. He focuses on how the police keep the hegemonic social order in place and how they are involved in the ideological and cultural aspects of social control. Hall’s work sheds light on the larger social and political effects of policing in a capitalist society by looking at how the police keep social inequalities going and keep things the same.

Using Hall’s work, we can say that the police force is an institution that has been around for a long time to keep social order and protect the interests of the dominant class. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are big problems in the Met. These problems are a reflection of the larger structural inequalities in society, which the police force not only reflects but also reinforces. The fact that the Met couldn’t deal with the problems in the Macpherson report well shows how systemic these problems are. 

Hall’s ideas about policing focus on the role of the police in the ideological and cultural aspects of social control, as well as the media’s role in shaping a positive story about the police force. The Casey report singles out the parliamentary and diplomatic protection command as exhibiting high levels of problematic behaviours, which can be interpreted as evidence of the police force’s alignment with the ruling class. In this context, the police are implicated in the maintenance of the capitalist system and the subjugation of the working class. By failing to address the problems of racism, sexism, and homophobia within their ranks, the Met police inadvertently expose their role in perpetuating the oppressive power dynamics inherent in a capitalist society. Meanwhile, the media often reinforces the image of the police as the guardians of order, further legitimising the existing power structures.

By failing to address the problems of racism, sexism, and homophobia within their ranks, the Met police inadvertently expose their role in perpetuating the oppressive power dynamics inherent in a capitalist society. Meanwhile, the media often reinforces the image of the police as the guardians of order, further legitimising the existing power structures.

Dominic Raab’s defence of the “vast majority” of Metropolitan police officers and his commendation of the new commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, can be seen as an attempt to redeem the image of the police force. However, echoing Hall’s work, this defence only serves to further solidify the idea that the police are an insurmountable problem in society. The structural issues within the police force, exemplified by the Casey report, demonstrate the inherent limitations of reformist measures in addressing the fundamental problems rooted in the capitalist system.

The damning revelations in the Casey report about the Metropolitan Police serve to reinforce the idea that the police force is part of the problem, as it perpetuates systemic inequalities and protects the interests of the ruling class. The inability of the Met to fully address these longstanding issues exposes the limitations of reformist approaches and highlights the need for a radical transformation of the capitalist system, considering the ideological and cultural dimensions of social control.

One response to “Forceful Irony: Policing & Power”

  1. […] imbalances and restore public trust. This metamorphosis must originate from within the institution, acknowledging the structural challenges and the necessity of actions, rather than relying solely on external pressure from affected […]

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