Presenter blog by Time 107.5 journalist Haydn Jeavons.
The shocking footage, which shows a man escaping from police as onlookers film and cheer, has caused quite a reaction after it was posted on the Time 107.5 Facebook page. The video was filmed while police tried to detain the suspect after officers were allegedly threatened with a firearm.
Fortunately the man was arrested in a nearby garden shortly after. But it is absolutely clear that there are people in our society who have absolutely no fear of the police. Whether it’s the man making the daring escape or those watching and cheering him on, some people are simply not afraid of the potential repercussions they could face and that’s part of the reason the level of violent crimes in our streets has gone up drastically in the last few years.
Here are just some of the comments that people left under the video on our Facebook page.
One user said: “Makes my blood boil! If half the people filming helped he wouldn’t have got away.”
Another asked: “When he shoots someone will they cheer?”
The one which stuck out most to me read: “I feel for the police it’s tough out there now.”
And how can you not feel for them?
As far as I can tell, there are just three police officers in that video. They were trying, and eventually managed, to arrest two people. But you could see the difficulty that had in detaining one of the suspects.
From speaking to officers, I know that it’s not so straight forward; one officer needs to handcuff the person while others try to hold them still. But if a suspect resists then it isn’t easy to get the cuffs on them and keep them on the ground. And it certainly doesn’t help when they are surrounded by people whose intentions aren’t clear.
Every so often, we hear about people who die while being taken into police custody. Just this week, a Met Police officer was cleared of misconduct over the death of Rashan Charles in east London last year. The officers making the arrests in Manor Park yesterday didn’t know how onlookers would react if they were more forceful. Could those watching form an ugly mob and try to take action against the officers who were simply upholding the law? It’s a shocking thought but it could very possibly have happened.
And then what about those who cheered and laughed as the suspect briefly escaped from police? Would they have done anything if the police had managed to detain him at the first attempt? Probably not but their presence certainly didn’t help the police.
One person who commented on the video, a former resident of Manor Park, noted that very few people in the community are likely to help police because they don’t want to be seen as a “grass”. People would much rather allow dangerous people to stay on our streets than face potential retribution for helping to put them behind bars. And it’s difficult to blame people for not wanting that threat of unwarranted punishment hanging over them. It’s easier to take the risk that harm won’t come your way than to stop anyone else being hurt.
In the incident shown in this video, two police officers received injuries to their hands. One will require surgery. This will affect their ability to work and protect people on the streets.
What’s incredibly scary is that no additional officers arrived during the video to support those making the arrests. Sure, the video is less than two minutes long but it doesn’t paint a great picture that the officers didn’t have the reinforcement they needed. A survey commissioned for the Daily Mail last month found that the majority of people believe that police have lost control of the streets. That may sound like scaremongering but this astonishing video makes me understand why Britons think that.
It’s well documented that there are fewer police officers on our streets. According to Full Fact, the number of police officers in England and Wales dropped by nearly 20,000 in just seven years. In London alone, they’ve been declining in recent years and, in November 2017, Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick warned another 3000 could be lost by 2020.
It is quite simple what will happen next: fewer police officers will lead to an increase in crime. If we don’t have the numbers to help tackle the growing problems we face, with rising numbers of murders in the capital, then violent crime could explode exponentially.
The Government has to sit up and take notice that criminals are no longer scared of the police. More needs to be done to give them support and bring control back to our streets. They need more funding otherwise we could be thrown into complete chaos in the not to distant future.
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