In the UK and America alike, we’re seeing a lot of reasons to re-think policing. What could we do that would change how policing works?
The big one for me is to re-prioritise around crime. Currently the police seem far too focused on the small scale crimes of poor people, while there seems to be no way to even challenge the crimes of the rich – and the crimes of those in government and other positions of power. Those with most power should be held to most account.
Justice should not simply be about punishing people after a crime has been committed. Justice means fairness and equality of opportunity.
If we legalised all drugs, provided them safely through pharmacists and treated addiction as a medical issue, we could do a lot of good. I gather it’s worked out well in Portugal.
If we invested properly in mental health support, we wouldn’t have people in crisis becoming a police issue.
If we invested in quality of life for everyone – especially including easy access to green space – we’d reduce crime where it relates to poverty. Interventions like Universal Basic Income would wipe out the crime that only exists because of desperation. Investing in communities would wipe out the crime that comes from boredom, frustration, lack of opportunities and feelings of alienation.
In a fairer and more just society, most of us would feel more motivated to support said society. Inequality and injustice encourage crime. When the crimes of the rich go unpunished – as is currently happening – a sense of obligation to each other is bound to be undermined.
What if policing included more community support and mediation? What if policing was more focused on abuses of power? What if ecocide was a matter for the police? What would happen to how we police ourselves if prison stopped being the default answer to crime?