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Police on the Line: Between Control and Correctness in Multi-Ethnic Contexts of Urban Unrest (From Rioting in the UK and France: A Comparative Analysis, P 56-70, 2009, David Waddington, Fabien Jobard, and Mike King, eds. - See NCJ-229457)

NCJ Number
Janet Bujra; Jenny Pearce
Date Published
15 pages
This analysis of the experiences of the British police in the 2001 riot in Bradford (United Kingdom) highlights the subjective and operational tensions involved in the management of this inter-ethnic conflict.
At issue in the discussion is the problem of policing a multicultural society in which inequalities are linked to racial distinctions and a racially oriented geography and social dynamic. In policy and resource allocation, the police are committed to a professionalism that aims to serve the public safety needs of the whole community. This involves the tension between an impartial enforcement of the law while attempting to respond sensitively to a culturally diverse population. Impartial enforcement of the law emphasizes universal concepts of public order and public safety, and policing a racially and culturally diverse society requires sensitivity to the particular experiences of the socially and economically disadvantaged who perceive their plights as related to racial/ethnic discrimination. In the view of the authors, peaceful and legitimate protests by young Asian men in Bradford was not the inevitable prelude for a riot. Police recognition of the right to protest as well as the attendant strong and bitter feelings of protesters should have been addressed with reassurances by police and local government and community leaders that their bitter feelings were understandable and that their grievances would be heard and addressed. On the other hand, police also have the responsibility of both protecting and legally restraining the efforts of protesters who complain that their rights are being encroached upon by what they perceive as government favoritism toward racial/ethnic minorities.