As Police Scotland’s new chief constable agrees that the force is guilty of institutional discrimination, Lauren Windle shares her thoughts on the police force from a Christian perspective.
I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been challenged by loved ones for my level of resentment towards the police. I have friends who have been arrested and treated as sub-human, humiliated and mocked before being discarded without charge - to be fair this was not in the UK but in a neighbouring equally affluent country. I (a white woman) have family members who are Black men, and to them, being stopped and searched or pulled over in their car is par for the course. They don’t break laws, they’re good Christian men with families and gentle hearts but they have to comply each time.
I’ve also got close friends who are police officers. I love them. They are kind and funny and caring and also Christian. I know that they are poorly treated at work. I know that they have a heart for people and communities and justice. They take huge risks to keep us safe. They’re harassed, spat at, and are frequently mocked with questions like “were you bullied at school?” while doing their jobs. And that’s all on a good day.
I can see how it’s easy for police officers to harden up and stop giving people the benefit of the doubt.
Anyone who gets relentlessly bullied at work will grow a thick skin. I can see how it’s easy for them to harden up and stop giving people the benefit of the doubt. I can see how they can just want to get the job done and lose their sense of compassion. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe that police officers should be recruited for their pastoral ability. So much of what they do is dealing with broken people that a focus on kindness could make more difference than any of us know.
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I have felt encouraged however in recent weeks by admissions like that of Police Scotland’s new chief constable. It was her first day in the job when Jo Farrell said she agreed that the force is guilty of institutional discrimination. She said it was a “difficult message”, but she was determined to drive forward “an anti-discriminatory agenda.”
Of course it’s not good news that senior level officers think there is institutional discrimination. But the only thing worse that an organisation that discriminates on an institutional level, is one that is does so blindly. At least by acknowledging where the police force is failing they can start to make positive changes. I desperately want that, for those hard working people on the force and those broken people they come into contact with.
As a Christian, I have all the time in the world for a redemption story.
As a Christian, I have all the time in the world for a redemption story. I believe in a God that convicts, offers grace and forgiveness and supports people as they improve. I am praying that we have the starting blocks of immense and wonderful change. The police are there to care for us and keep us safe, for many they do a brilliant job at it. But sadly, there are a lot of people don’t feel a sense of security around them. My hope is that bridges will be built, healing will take place and ultimately that feeling of resentment will be released.