From the Archives: Reshaping the Police After the Brixton Riots, 1984 | Life and style
In 1984, Alan Road visited the Met’s training center in Hendon for its 50th anniversary, to find out what changes had been made since Lord Scarman called for major police reforms after the Brixton riots (“Training Britain’s Police”, November 11, 1984).
Road found it to be “the jargon of the sociologist rather than The Sweeney found in classrooms at Hendon ‘with recruits discussing’ self-awareness, interpersonal relationships, active listening and non-verbal communication ‘. This is all a bit different then from the ongoing miners’ strike.
The recruits got up at 6:30 a.m. for a pre-class inspection, which ran from 8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. “Weekly testing and the promise of a full exam at the end of the course keeps most on their toes,” Road wrote, “and perhaps helps explain the 7% drop-out rate.”
The real life of the police was brought home on a few day-long visits to Hounslow and Greenwich where, Road said, “recruits, dressed in overalls and helmets and fitted with riot shields, are being bombed. with enthusiasm of wooden bricks… The units, which at first moved in an unsightly manner like a drunken turtle, quickly had to reinforce their ideas when it was time to open the ranks to let a load of galloping policemen brandishing batons.
But the siege mentality gave way when the Hackney Friends Anonymous Club arrived for a regular Sunday-style event. It’s a coup de grace in which “the teams… are made up jointly of police officers and civilians. Very soon, they will be able to run at the same pace as a police officer in a three-legged race ”.
Nothing showed the post-Scarman approach in Hendon better than these community relations sessions, Road said. One of the chief inspectors said with approval: “This is the first time they’ve been made to feel like police. This allows recruits to see how they are viewed.