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Police Community Relations - A Focus on Tottenham North London: Then and Now

Info: 7214 words (29 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: CriminologyLaw Enforcement


Since the 1990s, media, the internet and wider literature has identified that there has been brewing friction involving the police and the ethnic minorities within these communities. Let’s not mistake ourselves with riots that happened before 2011; they happened for a reason. Since these riots, the government have tried to implement many strategies in order to tackle the tension between the two through specific policies and different methods of police training. This paper aims to explore whether there has been an improvement in these relations between the police and the community which therefore would lead to a safer community. The way in which this will be done is through semi-structured interviews with local people in Tottenham and some police officers to investigate the different views on current police community relations since the riots took place. Wider literature have mostly suggested that there has always been a distaste for the police from the community perspective, this paper finds that this attitude has not changed since the riots despite the seven year lapse. Although, this is because of many things on both sides, which are preventing any progress such as: the way the community thinks, trust and transparency. Rebuilding trust is a vital component of police community relations whilst dealing with austerity. Despite the tensions between the police and community they both understand that these challenges exist and need to be worked on to address Tottenham’s future which will be demonstrated in this paper. The paper may also provide some insights for further study areas and how other places with similar problems may tackle this issue of police- community relations.


There are several people who I would like to thank who supported me during this research project. I would firstly like to thank my supervisor, Mr Jamie Cecil, without whom this whole project would not be possible in the slightest. His encouragement, understanding and valuable advice enabled me to finish this project. Furthermore, I would also like to thank everyone who took part in my study through the interviews which provided valuable data for this paper.


Chapter One: Introduction

In 2011, 6th of August just after 6pm, in Tottenham North London is when a riot commenced. The chaos also spread to other areas very quickly such as Edmonton and Brixton. Rough estimates according to the guardian (2016) at least: 15,000 people took part in the riots, 4,000 arrests; 5,112 crimes and at least 3,800 businesses were damaged in just London; not to mention everywhere outside of London such as Birmingham (Townsend, 2016). The story behind this riot ‘began’ with a shooting by a police officer of a 29 year old black man called Mark Duggan after an attempt to arrest him. However, this shooting itself came to be the catalyst for the riot itself because of the already existing tension between the police and the local community. Therefore a, supposed to be, small confrontation between a man and a police officer transformed a normal protest in Tottenham into a massive country-wide riot within the next day affecting thousands of people ( Lewis, 2011). It was covered heavily by media on a global scale highlighting the severity of the riot but after a while the attention was undeservingly shifted elsewhere. To the general public who were not affected by the riot, the event happened and has been forgotten but the local community of Tottenham remains damaged and the tension between the police continues (Lammy, 2016).Therefore, as the riots started in Tottenham, the answers to these issues in community relations can be found here as well. Six years onwards and the questions yet to be answered by literature and the media are; what has changed since then? What are the challenges that may make changes difficult? These are the sort of questions this paper looks to respond to as there needs to be more research on the issue of police community relations by assessing the relationship between the latter and how to improve them.  Recently, the amount of cases involving police violence and protests against such cases have increased which also highlights the concern for this topic on a local, national and global scale. On that note, a particular focus on Tottenham can show bigger correlations regarding relationships between the community and the police that may be shown in other areas in London or anywhere else. The ethnic diversity of Tottenham is quite high, however a large percentage of this population are Afro-Caribbean and has hosted riots before 2011 which can help make comparisons between the two and notice any differences in police community relations (reference). I particularly chose Tottenham to be my area of study because I was born here and a current resident therefore has a direct impact on myself as I belong to the community. In the next chapter I will provide an overview of the riots as well as the surrounding themes regarding police-community relations literature. Thus this paper will be written with full acknowledgment of existing literature about riots, police relations, race as well as the issues surrounding them with current anthropological literature. Then In chapter three I will discuss the methods used in this paper as well as their justifications, identifying its epistemology and how it influenced the design of the study. In the next chapter, the data collected will be examined and analysed, likewise in chapter 5 will summarise the key findings. This chapter will also explain its contribution to the existing literature on this topic. Lastly, the main aim of this paper is to assess whether there has been a change in police- community relations six years after the riots.

Chapter Two: Literature

This chapter will talk about the existing literature and the themes involved including: transparency, riots, race, policing and trust and how this paper will contribute and expand on this area. However, it will not only discuss the riot in Tottenham; it will also examine the history of riots which happened in the United Kingdom before the 21st century. This is because these riots also helped shape the police- community relations at the time and perhaps views of people today. After these riots took place there was a strong emphasis on advocating change in policing to prevent these riots from taking place again in the future therefore I will examine if this did bring a change to policing methods. Finally, there will be a discussion on the Tottenham riots in 2011 and their impacts on police- community relations. This is because the current literature review requires the need for extended research into the riots of 2011; exploring specifically the ‘trends’ mentioned in current literature are still adamant in police-community relation or whether there has been a change.


Due to these social unrests over the last century, there has been an increase in studies focusing on riots and the actual definition of riots has changed throughout this period. Scott & Marshall, 2009, (page 16) defines a riot as a “sudden upsurge of collective violence, often directed at property, sometimes at a persons in authority”, however an accurate definition of a ‘riot’ is arguable in several aspects. One thing to note is that the ‘legal’ definition is usually different from the one used in current academic debates. For example, the 1716 British Riot Act’s definition is: the disruption of public space with a common goal which involves at least 12 people (Bohstedt, 1988).In contrast to this, most academic researchers only class a ‘riot’ as a public disruption which involves more than 30 people (Olzak & Shanahan, 1996). The ‘gateway’ to riot studying was opened by the research of Gustave Le Bon In the 19th century with the aim to understand riots as opposed to instant law enforced responses at the points of which they happen (add reference). Therefore, he took upon the view that individuals involved in riots were mentally unstable and marginalised-socially. The United States started to use the academic field of sociology and psychology in an attempt to gain deeper understanding of the riots and why they occur (Wilkonson, 2009). For instance, Weckler & Hall (1944) suggested how media and social marginalisation could increase paranoia thus making rumours more believable to those who are vulnerable. Although, it wasn’t until the 1960s whereby historians identified that rioters are not mentally unstable and in fact have a clear purpose of what they are trying to achieve hence contradicted previous ideas proposed by Le Bon (Rude, 1964). Therefore it became clear that riots were not just a large group of people causing public disruption but however representatives of a wider population exerting frustration on their behalf. Without a doubt, the United Kingdom has become exponentially more diverse over the course of the 21st century and technologically advanced which has allowed social media to become more and more powerful. Therefore ponders the question ‘how relevant is the previous literature to recent riots?’ The human environment is constantly changing with massive differences between generations thus some factors, such as social media, may become inapplicable to previous literature.

One thing that made the riots of 2011 very important is that it provoked many academics to backtrack into previous riots that occurred in the UK to investigate any common themes which played a part. It has been argued by Lea (2003) that Britain has a strong tradition of rioting and thus requires more knowledge than elsewhere in Europe. Police will always be involved in riots argues Perez et al (2003) because they will either be part of its development or they will proceed to terminate the riot as they are the direct enforcers of the law. Therefore any sort of disagreement in the public’s eye regarding the police’s actions can be magnified to great levels (Lum,2009). One riot which took place in England were the Gordon Riots which happened in 1780. White (2011) argues that there were tensions between the community and the police even in the 18th century which resulted in the Gordon riots. The papists act in 1778 aimed to reduce discrimination against Catholics who were socially excluded because of several laws throughout the nation (reference).The population at the time who were against Catholicism were not pleased by the passing of this law and this resulted in social unrest and many attacks on the police officers (Rude,1956).These riots showed the discriminatory nature of the British people at the time and affected police-community relations. However, it is important to note that these riots stemmed from religious discrimination and is not the same as the Tottenham riots in that manner. On the other hand, there is clear evidence of social marginalisation which appears to be a factor. Prior to the 20th century riots were mainly aimed at religious tensions such as Catholicism. However, in the 21st century, the most adamant target of rioters is the government and thus the police (Mullan, 2001). (Maybe Include Robert Peel)

2.2. Incorporation of race

The interesting thing about race is that the late 20th century involved several cases on civil unrests between black minors and the police which is completely different to the Gordon riots that took place in the 19th century. This presented another idea of race and ethnicity being a factor in riots according to Waddington (1992). This was also argued by Solomos (2011) where the 1980s raised a cause for concern for race and ethnicity in regards to riots. This was in response to the Brixton riots, in London, which took place in 1981. Hernon (2006) examined this riot that took place and suggests that the Brixton riots were started by ‘Operation Swamp 81’. This led to more than 900 ‘stop and searches’ of which, a large percentage of these searches were of black youths. This was followed by riots from a confrontation between the community of black people and the police and ever since then, tensions remained high (mention immigration).Ultimately, another series of riots took place in 1985 following an accidental shooting of suspect, Michael Groce’s, mother. Later in the year, another incident of ‘injustice’ occurred in Tottenham when a woman had a heart attack whilst policemen were conducting a search at her house (Dabydeen, et,al., 2007). During the riots, a police was killed which creates further tensions between the police and the community as the police have a negative perception of the community. After the riots, An article of the 1985 riots was written by Oliver Letwin, a member of Margret Thatcher’s Policy Unity, which suggested that the riots were motivated by ‘bad moral attitudes’ (Perraudin, 2015).This indicates that the government did not clearly understand the situation and portrayed the riots as immature and chaotic thus failed to acknowledge the real issues between law enforcers and the community around them. Likewise Keith (1993) suggested that the police had race driven intentions, such as stop and search, were a massive part of policing which effected the relationship between the police and the community. The idea of racism in police-community relations has therefore been a dominant field in sociological and political studies since the riots in 1980s and is directly relevant to the Tottenham riots because racism is also laced through both the Brixton riots and the Tottenham riots (Newburn, et al.2011). Clair (2015) defines race as a social construct but racism as grief directed to minority communities based on their colour. This is also highlighted by Bowling & Philips (2002) that Britain has always had issues with ethnic minorities and corruptive social order.

A study by Gilborn (2008) aimed to investigate if racism still ‘existed’ in modern United Kingdom because of police community relations around that time as well as previous riots. The end of the study suggested that racism is much worse than the 1980s however portrayed in a different format than before. He argues that society is formed in a way where racism is embedded into social interactions and thoughts via racial inequalities. Therefore physical apparent racists are not needed. Later in this paper I will discuss the report written by Macpherson about racism that is not necessarily seen by the media- institutional racism in the modern society (reference). The phrase institutional racism was introduced by Carmichael & Hamilton (1968) as they brought forward the idea that racism happens not just on an individual level but also at an institutional one. Brown (1999). Bowling (1999) suggests that change can only take place if the thought of institutional racism as a cause in explaining social disadvantages experienced by ethnic minorities becomes accepted by society. In contrast to this thought at the time, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Paul Condon rejected the fact that the police were racist in any shape or form even after the Stephen Lawrence case in 1993 (reference, Halliday, 2015). The Stephen Lawrence story follows the murdering of an 18 year old black man in 1993.The inquiry sparked the discussion and evinced the topic of institutional racism to a greater level. Furthermore it helped to shift public attitudes and opinions on race and transformed individual lives through police making and police training (Muir, 2012).  However, despite changes in police training, several ethnic minority communities have felt like they have been a victim of institutional racism since the Stephen Lawrence case in recent decades (Weitzer & Tuch, 2009). Collectively, this form of policing has led to deterioration of public trust to the police. For instance a recent poll in 2014 revealed that approximately 50% of British people ‘trust’ the police (Standard, 2014). However, answers were heavily dependent on race as of this 50%, more than half were black. Consequently, people who feel that they representable of a certain race can feel alienated and effect their feelings towards the police (Chaplain, 2017).In Chaplain’s (2017) article on the 2011 Tottenham riots, he commented that the riots were fuelled by a ‘warped sense of community spirit’ and unity against the police. This is backed up by Madar (2013), who said that ‘over-policing’ of certain ethnic groups can also damage police-community relations through stop and searches. Vikram Dodd (2017), a Labour MP, finds that’ stop and search’ is eight times more likely to target black people.  A report by the Ministry of Justice in 2017 spoke about the  differences in convictions and persecutions in the UK of the years 2012 and 2016.It found that the black ethnic group had a 14% decrease in persecutions whereas the White ethnic group saw a 31% decrease. However, it’s important to note that within the total number persecutions in 2012, 81% of these people were white, 9% were Black and 10% from other backgrounds. In contrast to 2016: 79% were white, 11% for black and 10% from other backgrounds, for example Asian and Latin American. Although the percentage of black people involved increased by 2%, it still shows that black still make up for a big amount with that small percentage increase (Ministry Of Justice, 2017). It also shows that recently black people are more likely to be prosecuted compared to other races who have committed similar or the same crime.

To the previous point of stop and search, Benyon (2012) suggests that over policing through methods such as stop and searching creates tension between police and the community. Furthermore, this evokes the issue of transparent policing. Openness and transparency in policing are very important as they engender trust between the community and the police according to Mulligan (2018). Simply because if the community trust the police essentially stop and searching should not be an issue (Mulligan, 2018). In contrast to this, some policing in London has not been transparent (in fact violent) which leads to hatred and hostility and has a direct impact on police- community relations.

Literature focuses on how community perceives the police and their attitudes towards them but rarely speaks about the police and how they feel about the community which may be interesting to find out. Chief Constable Dave Thompson (2017) suggests that the government need to invest more money into the police with proving them with more officers in the country and more weapons and equipment in order to deal with ‘another riot’. He does not mention anything about improving police-community relations and simply views the situation as a national defensive strategy for safety of ‘citizens’ thus showing that he has not acknowledged the root of the problem.

Advocating change in policing

After the 1981 riots, an official public inquiry was taken by Lord Scarman with the results shown in the Scarman Report (Table 1). The Scarman report was a report commissioned by the government in the 20th century. Its aim was to identify the factors whether they were social, political or economic, which created violent protests (reference).It also reported that there were several examples of failure to train police effectively and a lack of representation of ethnic minorities in the police. However it failed to clearly identify that any form of racism within the police force existed. The home secretary, William Whitelaw, accepted the report but was completely ignored by the government at the time (reference). Therefore there were no government policies to directly tackle the racial disadvantage problem in the UK which was mentioned in the Scarman report. The report identified the rioters as a group of mentally stable people with genuine grievance due to social marginalisation in the community, the similar idea which was argued by Lea (2011).  In 1984 Benyon assessed the report via several academics. The report allegedly did not discuss institutional racism to a great depth enough to evoke a change in policing and suggestions for improvements were ignored (Benyon, 1984). On the other hand, Benyon’s book came from a collection of different essays- some of which were aligned with the government hence they could be biased. Smith et al (2006) argues that the Scarman report heavily focused on community relations rather than race relations therefore explains why institutional racism was not dwelled upon enough for the government to acknowledge his proposals. Adding to this, Neal (2003) also states that policing issues, which were identified by the Scarman report, were not taken on board. In contrast to Neal, Francis (2011) argues that the Scarman report was suffice enough to bring about change because it set a standard base for vital changes in policing that needed to be carried out. Nonetheless, it failed to make an impact in this field because of its lack of influence (reference).

Category    Summary of Proposal
Discipline Racial behaviour should not be tolerated and should be written in the official policing documents. Also any identified individuals going against this policy should be dismissed.
Supervision Stop and searches should be monitored to identify any racist patterns within the police.
Training Basic training should be extended to at least 6 months so that trainees receive the adequate training required to deal with a multi-cultural society and to handle situations more effectively without violence.
Law Reform The Sus law should be abandoned and replaced with new legislation and random inspections should be carried out by independent officers.
Recruitment The police serve a multi-cultural society therefore the police should also reflect as such. Therefore suggested to provide extra support to black applicants as they tended to be poorly educated and recruit them without lowering training standards.
Social Reform Improvements to housing and leisure facilities to reduce crime.

Table 1 Source:WordPress (change)

Back to the Stephen Lawrence case, the Macpherson report really highlighted the need for changes in policing in 1999; with great emphasis. It was this report that also labelled the police as institutionally racist after having very little progress on the murder investigation of Stephen Lawrence (Hall, 1999). Unlike the Scarman report, the Macpherson report made far more recommendations and proposals- a total of 70- in response to the failure of the British police to efficiently deal with the murder case (shown in table 2). The Macpherson report was very important in creating change in police-community relations at a formal level because made society more aware of institutional racism, specifically at the law enforcement level (Bowling & Phillips, 2002). One report published by the House of Commons in 2009 stated that almost all of Macpherson’s recommendations were enacted completely within 10 years of the report being published (House of Commons, 2009).  Despite these proposed and implemented changes, a man who was associated with Macpherson, Doctor Richard Stone, argued that many police officers are still institutionally racists (Peachy, 2012). On the other hand, it was argued by Foster, et al (2005) that there were indeed changes in the police in terms of institutional racism but they were little. In fact they argued that institutional racism still existed within the police but unlike before; it was more discreet and not recorded due to corruption. Furthermore, Foster (2008) argued that some of the police felt individually attacked by the Macpherson report as being racist when in fact they were not therefore their attitude to work became careless. Although other academics such as Merrick, et al. (2012) argue that the British society has improved in terms of cohesiveness with racial minorities. This has been shown through the members of parliament. For example, more members of parliament are from ethnic minority groups. Although the focus of this paper will discuss if there has been a change in police-community relations, it’s important to also examine the reasons why attempts in the past failed.

Progress Reports Progress reports should be written annually on police meeting their ethnic minority employment targets.
The Wider Community National curriculum should be changed in schools to prevent racism and empower cultural diversity. Also educational authorities to come up with ways to deal with racist incidents.
Police Procedures Police officers should receive first aid training. In addition, all proven racist behaviour conducted by police and proven should result in dismissal. Police to be trained in racial awareness.
Stop and Search No Physical change of stop and search but they should be recorded and a copy given to the personnel involved. To improve transparency and increase trust levels.
Judicial System There should be a change in the law to allow persecution of racism outside of public space. Any evidence of a racist act should be declared at all stages of persecution but no physical change is needed as what is deemed as ‘proof’ of a racist act.

Table 2: Summary of MacPherson Report. Source: The Guardian

2.4. Tottenham riots 2011

The Tottenham riots in 2011 took place after a shooting of a young black man, Mark Duggan, by a police officer. Due to Mark Duggan being a local man from Tottenham, already existing tensions between the community and the police flared up into a riot spreading in several places in the UK (reference). The large scale riot was then broadcasted by the mainstream media such as BBC news (portrayed as an act of criminality) and published all over social media on the likes of Facebook (reference). Despite this, there was no great reaction from the government to resolve the issue on any level. Instead, their main focus was to give ‘justice sanctions’ and bringing order back to the UK thus the media labelled the riots as chaotic and destructive( Cooper,2012:6). In addition because of the media portraying the riot in a certain way and the police as national heroes in the case of one being injured, the police themselves became influenced ( Weitzer & Tuch, 2009). It was common to find reports made by the media stating that police were being abused which then can affect how other police perceive the situation on an individual level thus treating the situation differently and making the situation worse. Greenslade (2012) argues that newspapers reported incorrect information regarding the initial confrontation between the policemen and Mark Duggan-saying that he had a gun and made even claims that he was a drug dealer. The family denied these claims although in this light, it’s simply one person’s words against another’s. Therefore it can be blindly believed by anybody who reads it which shows how powerful the media truly is.

Leah Bassel (year) analyses the relationship between the areas that were affected by the riots and the media. She states that the media were in fact spreading lies about the riots simply because they wanted to get more coverage and sell more (Bassel, 2012- read this reference). To add to this point, Wadsworth (2012) mentions that the coverage of the riots by the media were awful and ignored the real problems that really caused the civil unrest such as poverty and stop and searches. Several pieces of literature has therefore argued that the national and local response by the government failed to understand the real issues that caused the riot in the first place such as policing and racial relations and therefore history is repeating itself it seems (reference). The response was based on what the media published and reported and via the Riots Communities and Victim’s Panel (table 3).Therefore these comments are subjective and rather personal and may not reflect the actual issues in the society and relevant to improving police-community relations.

Policing MPS should improve success rates of stop and search in particular black and ethnic minorities and not seem as though they are abusing their power. Furthermore, they should be more transparent with their stop and searches and justify their reasoning for stop and searching an individual; specifically highlighting the link between stop and searching and its role in reducing crime. The panel also recommended that all complaints should be understood to prevent any escalation which should leader to more trust between the community and the police.
Accountability Police should involve individuals with how they will proceed onwards with their respective cases and inform them on what they are planning to do. Also to record all information and explain whatever they are doing to the people involved. This will increase trust and can help improve police-community relations.
Community People who may suffer from poverty appear to be the ones who make community cohesion hard. Therefore the panel suggested that the

Council should work with neighbourhoods to develop a community’s cohesiveness. In addition The community department should work with the public to develop ways in which the community can get involved with working together which would increase racial awareness and make everyone feel part of the British society.

 Table 3.Source Riots Communities and Victim’s Panel 2012.

Although major reports have confirmed that police-community relations were in fact bad and proposed for improvements more than a decade ago, the relationship between the police and the community still appear to be tense according to literature, particularly with ethnic minorities. Tottenham’s MP, David Lammy argued that the main reasons for the riots in 2011 includes: unemployment, poor education and infective parental guidance (Lammy, 2012-maybe wrong). In this paper I will divulge into this issue and investigate whether there has been a change in the town of Tottenham-where the 2011 riots began.

(Include Map of Tottenham here)

Tottenham is a town in the London borough of Haringey, in between the towns of Edmonton, Walthamstow and Stoke Newington-in North London (figure one). It has a population of more than 129,000 people which is almost half of the borough’s (reference).In general London is a very multicultural society however you still have to respect the field of urban migration and factors that form settlement patterns. In that light, Tottenham has the highest number of people classified as Afro-Caribbean alongside the town of Brixton in South London. Therefore as police-community relations in these places are deteriorating, it is also these places that should be focused in order bring about change. It isn’t a coincidence that both, Brixton and Tottenham, riots happened as both places host a large amount of the black population of London. Recently, the town of Tottenham has been very unsafe with multiple incidents of knife and gun crime as the police has not been able to keep the streets safe. Are stop and searches not happening as frequent as they should? According to The Guardian (2018), violent crime levels are heading towards the worst level in more than a decade. David Lammy, the MP of Haringey argues that rapid growth of the drug economy and cut to public services is the reason for an increase in violent crime (The Guardian, 2018).For example, London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, also argues that the Government cuts to young people services is the reason for the recent crime surge( The Guardian 2018). Perhaps these proposals regarding stop and searching is only inhibiting a riot from happening in the future but is not showing to reduce crime rates by a huge rate. The key to a safer community is through police community relations. Recently the football Tottenham Hotspurs is taking steps in trying to improve police-community relations. For instance, the club offers over 6500 hours of free activities each year, working with over 1500 young people in week in several boroughs in North London. By doing this, it engages young people into the community and creates opportunities for them to get into education, training or employment thus trying to secure them a future and ultimately driving them away from crime and unemployment (Tottenham Hotspur, 2018). These events aim to break down barriers between the local young community and the police. In the next chapter I will discuss my research methods and my justifications for using them.

Chapter Three: Methodology

Add a bit here

Rationale for research

In this research, I used both qualitative and quantitative approaches to gather data with a semi-structured questionnaire for members of the Tottenham community. I could have used data from the local council to get a general idea of the relationship because it would have been quantitative therefore easier to measure. However, I thought it would not be enough for this study and required information on a local level. Due to police-community relations being a highly complicated topic, I believe that both quantitative and qualitative questions needed to be used to gain sufficient data as they could reveal some trends. For instance an aim that I had for this study was to investigate whether if there are any barriers preventing police-community relations from improving whether they are social or political. For example, is there enough community engagement with the police such as neighbourhood watches? I included a qualitative approach into the questionnaire because it can generate some ideas for the future to improve police- community relations as trying to do this with only quantitative data would be quite difficult. Furthermore, it allows the participants to ‘give back’ to the study rather than just answering tick boxed questions. For example, they can develop personal answers based on their experiences and perhaps allow some answers will leave room for inference (Valentine, 2013). According to the Guardian & LSE (2011), qualitative data proves to be more suited to analysing police community relations. Therefore I will use both quantitative and qualitative data in an attempt to gain full understanding or the local perspective of police- community relations.

Research sample

The research sample were selected at random from members of the community of Tottenham, making sure they were over the age of 18 as they would have more developed opinions on the police (reference). Also because at the time of the Tottenham riots they may or may not have been living in Tottenham at the time therefore they could have a personal opinion of the situation. The study aimed to have at least 30 participants in order to get a representable sample size (table 4).Furthermore, I hoped to get participants from different ethnic backgrounds and ages. Most studies on police and community relations have been focused on police community relations as a subject in the UK thus I intend to have a more focused study on the town of Tottenham on a local level( The Guardian & LSE 2011). I asked about the participant’s occupation because I wanted to get different perspectives from people of different levels of work in the community. Hence the sample I receive should represent the community as much as possible. Perhaps someone who is unemployed will have a certain view on the police compared to a full time working person such as a teacher. Many quantitative factors can influence a participant’s answer such as: where they live, age and gender therefore all must be asked. In some cases people were together on the streets of Tottenham, whereby one person may not want to stop and participate but the other is rather more kind. Perhaps, the latter did not want trust me enough to speak about this issue. Therefore by gaining one participation, the accompanying person is more likely to take part. This is called snowballing which helped me gain a few extra people (Valentine, 2013).


During my study I used both secondary and primary resources to collect my data. Primary data in the form of semi-structured questionnaires with as much participants as possible in the time I have. By using structured questions at the end of the questionnaire to involve the participant’s opinions and emotions which then give a lot of diversity in answers based on their experiences therefore it  suits this topic (Longhurst, 2003). The statements I put in the questionnaire were kept very simple without mentioning any sensitive issues to allow the participants to rank the statements genuinely rather than emotionally and then bring forward any comments hopefully in the questions section. All questionnaires were completed in Tottenham in public but in a less crowded area to increase chances of encountering a successful participant (Clifford & Valentine, 2003). Furthermore because these were conducted in Tottenham the participant may feel more comfortable to participate in the study. The quantitative data collected will be examined and analysed for any trends that appear through any two variables to identify any correlations if there are any with statistical analysis (Cope,2003).  The questions will be also analysed to find any common ideas or thoughts that are written by the participants about police-community relations. Finally, the qualitative date and quantitative data of each participants will be analysed to examine any further trends that may be evident. Secondary data from documents and reports published on several website will be used alongside primary data to compare and contrast. Also because collecting secondary data is faster and time efficient (reference).


Whilst handing out questionnaires for members of the public to fill out, there is a sense that the participant has more power than the researcher because they are the ones taking part in the study and helping the researcher. Particularly with the possibility that the participant may encounter a question which they may not like and could react unpleasantly. Therefore whilst giving out these questionnaires and approaching people I remained neutral and avoided expressing much emotion whilst at the same time being respectful to the participants (Winchester, 1996).Moreover, Being a young black man could play a role in this study as participants may not want to take part in my study simply because of race or even age and even the ones that took part, it could affect their answers if they believe I may find it offensive (Clark, 2013). Despite remaining objective to this study and showing a lack of emotion and remaining neutral, it would be inaccurate to label this research as completely objective. A researcher always influences their own study one way or another for any reason therefore there is always a degree of subjectivity (Edwards, 1993).  As stated before, whilst looking for participants, I specifically looked for people over the age of eighteen. A consent form was written at the top of the questionnaire, which outlined what I was doing and what I intend to do with the information gathered, which I asked the participant to read (appendix 2). It was also mentioned to them that they can withdraw from the study at any given time and confirming that all information collected from this study will be kept confidential and anonymous- then destroyed once finished with. Finally, by taking the participants wellbeing in mind, questions were kept very basic to avoid any emotional or physical harm.


The first limitation I the study area- Tottenham. As this is a police-community relations study, Tottenham is not the only town with this issue with police. On a larger scale, it would have been beneficial to receive participants from other places in the UK to be able to compare them both on a larger scale. As I explained earlier, race is a large part of this field of study, however, it is still a sensitive topic because of races history according to Sutterby (2015). He argues that some races have a ‘dark history’ and some individuals may not feel comfortable talking in reference or in regards to their race and requires respect and understanding from interviewers. Due to this, a participant may not answer a question honestly even with the confidentiality and anonymity. Despite this I tried to interact with as much people as possible in an attempt to gather data. There were a lot more men compared to females who participated therefore, the views could be biased via gender alone and many female perspectives could be missed. This is because the amount of females who took part in the study may not be enough to draw sufficient conclusions. On the other hand, it could be argued that police-community relations is more thought about by men rather than women as they tend to be stop and searched more thus they have opinions to express. Although gaining some insight on the female perspective on police- community relations is equally as valuable even if the issue does not impact them directly. Furthermore, despite this being a police community relations study, perhaps a different questionnaire could have been made for police as this is indeed a two way interaction and not just the community’s perspective on the police. However, due to time constraints, police were not fitted into this study and instead focuses on the community. It may be argued that my sample size may not be enough to make adequate findings on this study as some academics may suggest it is too small of a sample size. However, as I am from Tottenham, and a resident here, I believe my local advantage gives me more confidence to find the data I need. Although, there are clearly limitation to this research I believe my findings can still be deemed sufficient enough to be considered. In the next chapter I shall discuss my findings based upon my questionnaire.

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