Brian on celebrity, Stockwell, peace-making, the police, drugs, racism and education

by Stephen Tall on January 19, 2009

This weekend’s Indy carried a fascinating profile of Brian Paddick, the Lib Dems’ 2008 London mayoral candidate You can read it in full online here. And, indeed, it’s worth reading in full – but this extract in particular caught my eye for providing real insight into the development of Brian’s liberal spirit:

… Paddick’s explanation of how his liberal views were formed is fascinating. He says that until he went for a year to the police staff college at Bramshill, Hampshire, as part of an accelerated promotion procedure, he accepted the police culture. “It was Scarman [the investigator of the 1981 Brixton riots who published a radical report on policing] who talked about the liberalising effects of education. I did three months at Brixton as a Sergeant, I did 12 months at Bramshill doing a mixture of police studies and academic work and then I went back on the same team at Brixton. The riots happened during the year I was away, but I went back that weekend to help out. When I came back my perception was that my former colleagues had become racist. But it wasn’t that, it was the liberalising effect of education. Being out of the culture and going back and seeing it from a completely different perspective.

“I had been inculcated into the culture to the extent that I didn’t even recognise the racism that was there. I think it was during that 12 months that I radically charged my views, I disengaged from the culture of the police service and never re-engaged again. And because I had been physically there, during the riots and had studied the causes and so forth, and then was involved in the policing of the aftermath, I felt I really did understand the need for community policing and the need to tailor policing to the needs of the local people.

“I think it was about a third of the way through this 12-month course at Bramshill that we were told that the difference between the rank we were aspiring to, and the rank we were currently in, was that in our current rank we were expected to accept the given paradigm, but that once we reached Association of Police Chief Officers (ACPO) rank, the difference was to look at things from a different perspective and to try to convince people that our paradigm was the right one. To no longer be constrained by the rules that we were given, but to rewrite the rules. And I took that to heart.”