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Policing minority ethnic communities: a case study in London’s ‘Little India’

Trikha, Sara (2012) Policing minority ethnic communities: a case study in London’s ‘Little India’. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The Macpherson Inquiry (1999) was instrumental in forcing into the public domain the issue of police racism, which for decades had been an endemic part of police culture. My thesis, undertaken post Macpherson (1999), examined ongoing tensions in the policing of minority ethnic communities through a case study of policing in London’s ‘Little India’. My thesis highlights the continuing influence of racism in policing, describing a world of policing ethnically diverse communities that is far more complex, variable and contradictory than has yet been documented in the empirical policing literature. I describe how policing in Greenfield was a patchwork of continuity and change, illustrating how, despite the advances the police in Greenfield had made in eradicating overt racism from the organisation, passive prejudice remained rife among officers. Most notably, despite acknowledging Greenfield’s long resident Asian communities as the ‘indigenous population’, officers still had little knowledge about these communities, tending to classify them as ‘Asians’ in a way that obscured, rather than illuminated their diversity. Furthermore, while officers regarded ‘Asians’ as the established communities of Greenfield, new ‘problem populations’ - most notably Somalis, Muslims and travellers - emerged, with officers tending to engage with these communities in antagonistic ways, echoing themes from early studies of race and policing. Yet beneath this somewhat depressing overarching picture of policing, a more complex, contradictory network of attitudes and practice emerged, 3 encompassing both officers who were overtly hostile to ethnic diversity and also examples of inspirational officers committed to reforming the policing of minority ethnic communities. Having described policing in Greenfield, I conclude by discussing the wider ramifications for police legitimacy and democracy in Britain, arguing that until greater emphasis is placed on ensuring that the police support the equitable principles of democracy, the police in Greenfield and other areas will continue to fail the marginalised people who most need their services.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Sara Trikha
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Foster, Janet

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