Among the “burning injustices” identified by Theresa May on the steps of Downing Street on her first day in her new job was “if you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white”.
A generation ago the Prime Minister’s assertion would have been a truism. But after a quarter of a century of race awareness training, diversity monitoring, a pursuit of the equalities agenda as dogged as the pursuit of any individual villain or class of villains, and a management culture across both the police and courts services that can sometimes seem politically correct to a fault, we can surely ask whether that really is still the case; and if so, why?
The quick answer is that yes, it is still the case. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) publication Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2012 provided a catalogue of disturbing racial disparities showing that black males do continue to receive tougher treatment at the hands of the law.
Why? Well, that’s less clear. The MoJ report does its best to head off the standard left-liberal response: “The identification of differences should not be equated with discrimination … as there are many reasons why apparent disparities may exist.” And the statistics include the occasional disparity that goes the other way. If a disproportionate number of black prisoners were to die in custody, you can bet that the media would be alleging racism was behind it. But actually, the numbers show that it is white people who die in disproportionately large numbers in prison. Suddenly, racism seems a far less plausible explanation for the discrepancy.
Manufacturing or exacerbating racial grievances can be very dangerous, as we have seen recently in Texas and Louisiana. There is a clear and demonstrable connection between race-baiting (and lazy, reflexive blaming that amounts to race-baiting) and young men with guns setting out to murder police officers.
Blue lives matter too. But not to everyone, it appears. “Feels good to see n—-s knocking these pigs off,” was the sentiment one prominent DJ and rap producer tweeted after the Baton Rouge murders. Perhaps he had not noticed that one of the slain, Officer Montrell Jackson, was just as black as he is.
As US police officers took cover from automatic rifle fire, back in Nottingham Chief Constable Sue Fish was announcing how proud she was to be “leading the way towards tackling misogyny in all its forms” as Nottinghamshire Police became “the first force in the country to recognise misogyny as a hate crime”.
The Nottinghamshire force also issued its own rather alarming definition of the new offence: “Misogyny hate crime, in addition to the general hate crime definition, may be understood as incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.”
So, a gentleman doffing his hat in the direction of a lady, or offering his seat on a bus will now be guilty of a hate crime in Notts. Also effectively criminalised will be “unwanted or uninvited verbal contact” and “the use of mobile devices to take photographs without consent or permission”.
And if you are wondering by what authority Chief Constable Fish (I promise I am not making all this up) presumes to strip away the ancient liberties of Englishmen, then you have not yet encountered the radical relativism and utter stupidity that nowadays underpin policing in the shires. For a flavour, check out this definition printed in black and white beneath the logo of Nottinghamshire Police on its press release: “A hate crime is simply any incident, which may or may not be deemed as a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hatred.”
Yes, that is exactly what it says.So, when some “other person”, with no particular locus in a situation; indeed, who conceivably wasn’t even there, happens to (mis-)perceive that something was motivated by racism, then a hate crime is recorded. Which explains perhaps why more than a hundred children have been reported for hate crimes in the past year, and why a Manchester boy aged three remains under investigation.
As for the alleged spike in hate crime consequent upon the Brexit result that we keep being told about … need we worry? You decide.
Dennis Sewell is a contributing editor of The Spectator
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