Policing the Windrush Generation.
History and Policy
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West Indians were the first group of non-white immigrants to settle in Britain in large numbers after World War Two.
Many arrived with a perception of the 'mother' country that was naïve and left them ill-prepared to deal with the hostility and resentment of the host community.
The police service, to which immigrants turned for help when confronted with problems associated with racial prejudice, was drawn exclusively from the host community, sharing its attitudes and prejudices.
It was during the early years of large-scale immigration that attitudes and misconceptions developed between police and West Indian immigrants that resulted in mutual stereotyping.
Racial prejudice, and the police service's reluctance to see beyond its own priorities to prevent and detect crime, led the Metropolitan Police to reject the West Indian community's offer to assist with police training in community relations at the very time when difficulties between the two sides were becoming apparent.
Although the Metropolitan Police began racial-awareness training for recruits in 1964, the training was largely tokenistic. Following the Scarman Report of 1981, community and race-relations training for the police was revamped in 1984, but claims of lack of commitment and support at all levels have persisted.
Current community and race-relations training for Metropolitan Police staff ignores the historic background of difficulties in relations with the black community. As such, new recruits lack an in-depth understanding of the way in which negative feelings on the part of the police towards West Indians in the early years of large-scale immigration fed developing perceptions of the police as being oppressive and racist.
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