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Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sir Norman Bettison & the Muslims.


Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire.

The grooming of young girls affects “the whole spectrum of communities”
- Sir Norman Bettison to Muslim leaders in Wakefield, June 2012.


Was it a nice conference, Sir Norman?
Depending on who believe, the police may have known about the Rochdale sex grooming crimes as early as 2002. But even Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood was forced to admit that they had known at least 2 years before the criminals finally faced judgment.
With the criminals safely behind bars at last, you’d think that now would be the time for an honest inquiry, a little introspection maybe about what went wrong, why no action was taken, and why it was allowed to continue for so long? Enter Sir Norman George Bettison, QPM, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police.
In a career spanning 39 years, there haven’t been many high points. After the infamous Hillsborough disaster in 1989 he faced accusations of participating in a “black propaganda campaign which aimed to deflect the blame for what had happened on to any one other than themselves” – an affair that earned him the nickname‘Norman the Cover Up’. He was also the police chief who claimed that his Merseyside Police ‘could invade a South American Country’; the same police force that, in September 1999, allegedly beat up Liverpool supporters and shoppers in the ‘Slater Street Incident’.
In 2005 he retired from the police, but returned to active service in 2007 (despite a petition bearing 15,000 names against his appointment). He made every effort to keep his pension and his new salary (eventually settling out of court for an undisclosed amount) – but then in 2010 wrote to The Times to say that he wasn’t worth the £213,000 he cost and that police chiefs were overpaid.
In 2008 he even ordered his staff to monitor his Wikipedia page to stop people posting ‘rude comments’ about him.
After excluding himself from the post of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service on the grounds that he refused to be involved in politicising the police, he stayed on with the West Yorkshire Police to make a complete fiasco of a 2008 attempt to review police shift arrangements. The police federation were forced to step in and conducted another review in 2009.
A psychology degree comes in handy when your reputation is shot and public confidence in the police is at an all time low. Maybe it’s because of this psychology degree that Sir Norman’s feted achievement is ‘Neighbourhood Policing’, a policy based on the 1960’s concept of Community Policing which, in the words of the Home Office:
“…resulted in: a reduction in crime (self-reported victimisation); a fall in perceived anti-social behaviour; improved perceptions of the crime rate; increased feelings of safety; and enhanced perceptions of the local police.”
Perceptions, impressions; real action? No, smoke and mirrors. It’s all psychology; let the people feel like they are safe and it won’t matter. So, while crime stares them in the face, the police force dedicate themselves to a psychological approach because, as the government’s own publicity materials remind us:
“Research has found that confidence in the police acting fairly and being engaged with local communities is linked with increased police legitimacy. Perceptions of legitimacy, in turn, have been shown to increase the chances of a person cooperating with the police and obeying the law. Building confidence and legitimacy – through the police being helpful, approachable, fair and respectful – may help to reduce crime by encouraging citizens to assist the police.”
So, in 2010, faced with an increasing risk of terrorism, Sir Norman complains that the Muslim community “could do more” to help identify extremist individuals. He is, he says, conscious that there is “a fine line between winning the support of the Muslim community and alienating it”, and there is “a need for the community to work with the police.”
Now in 2012, after a series of convictions for one of the worst cases of sexual exploitation in recent British history, Sir Norman’s response was to hold a conference with representatives of a small section of the Muslim community. We’re sure he made every effort to be “helpful, approachable, fair and respectful”.
But where was this help when the victims needed it? Were the police ‘approachable’ when they turned the victims away and refused to act on their evidence? Were they fair? Who are you being  ‘respectful’ to, Sir Norman, when you  tread that fine line of not alienating the Muslim community by blithely announcing that young girls are “also seen as ‘easy meat’ by some young white men”?
It’s no big deal, apparently: “We witness that sort of approach and attitude any Saturday night in any of our towns and cities,” according to Sir Norman. There’s certainly no evidence of there being a ‘particular problem’.
But where is the moral equivalence between a young white man who might chance his arm with a young girl and a group of men who systematically drug, rape and pimp underage girls? Surely a young white man trying to take advantage of an emotionally unbalanced girl looking for love, support and a father-figure in her life is a completely different issue to a young girl being filled with alcohol and drugs and then passed around and raped?
Is pretending that sexual exploitation by these ‘grooming gangs’ is ‘not a faith or a race issue’ Sir Norman’s way of “building confidence and legitimacy”?
The EDL appreciate that policing is a difficult and sometime dangerous job and we have had more than one opportunity to appreciate first-hand the efforts of front line officers. But tackling serious crimes such as these should not mean entering into a popularity contest for the friendliest bobby on the beat.
The decision to stand up for decency and morality and to work to uphold the law is not a political one. If Sir Norman is really worried about the politicising of the police, he would do well to convince us that PC does not always need to stand for ‘politically correct’.
So, Sir Norman, if you’re reading, when are you going to admit that there is a particular problem, and when are you going to let us know what you’re going to do about it?

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