The Commissioner’s "Bag Carriers" respond to the issue of jean Charles de Menezes

October 18, 2006
MY ORIGINAL MESSAGE TO THE Met Commissioner – Thu, 18 Aug 2005
Sir, I quote from you: “But what concerns me is that this part of the story is concentrating on the death of one individual, when we have 52 dead people from all faiths and communities in London and from abroad.” (1) This one individual was a human being also, and an innocent human being. He was not a primary victim of the terrorist attacks. He was a secondary victim and as such there can be no comparison between primary and secondary victims in this way. There is no “like.”(3) Nor is the view that a life of a human being is really acceptable cost in fighting terrorism. If we take this view then in the future it will be minority ethnic people of colour that will be targets. Historically the police service has not been open when dealing with deaths of minority ethnic people. (4) We really have to consider what really the life of a human being is worth, if as it is being banded around, the price of life is worth £500,000 this is a sad indictment upon us all as police officers. Or is this the value of life placed upon a minority ethnic individual? Surely the Metropolitan Police and the Government together can agree a value that is more realistic and accountable. (5) On a second note please find the attached message. I hope it is of some use to you, I have sent it to the editor of the Police Review. You cannot and should not be criticised for the manner in which the Metropolitan Police and the BTP have professionally investigated these matters and detained persons quickly. These persons in essence are racist individuals. The officers of the Metropolitan police and the BTP have acted bravely and are making extreme decisions. I hope this email and information contained here-in can be some of your future focus. Sir, with the greatest respect this issue of extremes and stereotypes if acted upon honestly by us may be our only saving grace.
The below issue is an ugly one, but the fact remains: Stereotypes are a complexity amalgam of thoughts and images that the police can neither live with nor live without. The recent acts of terrorism highlight clearly the fact that our stereotypes of those potentially involved in such acts have been heightened; and to a certain extent they need to be for us to be able to conduct our policing role. The complexity of stereotypes worsens though when our stereotypes become “negatised” for too long a period and when they are prone to becoming “over inflated” by limited incidents, (7/7, 21/7). Naturally we begin to associate images from intelligence and the media. Height, weight profiles, facial expressions and types, colour, ethnicity, gender, clothing/accessories, etc. are all a part of these images. Unfortunately currently these images relate to alot of Asian/African youth/men based on the London bombings. Worse still for policing is the fact that those involved were all “British.” At this moment in time we have to accept that our stereotypes of persons potentially involved in terrorist activity is potentially “over inflated” and it is paramount that those on the front line try to keep these stereotypes in check. The stress and tiredness this may cause in days to come should not be forgotten. In one event a stereotype may save ours or the lives of others, or it may save people from injury. In another event, a stereotype may prove totally wrong. To lay blame upon the Police service in relation to these issues is not the answer to something that deserves to be debated at a broader societal and National level, because the blame, if there is any, lies within a variety of failing societal processes. Putting things into perspective let us not underestimate the nature of this task for I can think of no decision, (deciding upon the reality of stereotypes), more difficult for anyone in society at this moment in time. And these decisions are falling hourly/daily upon officers within the Metropolitan Police and the BTP. Dealing with stereotypes of this nature is, therefore, no easy task and anyone that thinks it is does not understand the relationship between policing and stereotypes. The mechanism of intelligence, the support of effective training, regular debriefs, and the support of the community is what we must rely on if we are to continue to police terrorism in a professional manner and avoid another tragedy like that of Mr de Menezes.
I want some reassurance that the messages I am sending are getting through to the Commissioner. Sir, If what I say about stereotypes is true then I would suggest that the Metropolitan Police Team involved in the investigation with the IPCC and the Brazilian Team push forwards with an open view that a professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist with specialisms in stereotyping works with the team to assist in unravelling a very difficult area. If we do this openly, then we are being honest and genuine.
I don’t think I have had the pleasure of replying to any e-mails from you before. It will probably not come as a surprise that your message is hard to fully comprehend given that it is out of context. Sir Ian does not read the vast majority of the e-mails that sent to him. They number, literally, in their hundreds, and as his staff officer I reply to many of them on his behalf. As a serving police sergeant, you ought to be aware the IPCC is fully independent. The MPS can do nothing that would prejudice or pre-judge the outcome of what will no doubt be a very thorough, impartial and professional investigation which will in due course make recommendations for the future. The MPS is not investigating the shooting (and neither is the Brazilian delegation who have in fact returned home) and has no role other than to co-operate with the IPCC.

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