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Trigger-Happy and Racial Bias: Why rates of police brutality in the US are so much higher than rates in the UK.

imagePolice Brutality in the U.S. is no myth. From Michael Brown to Freddie Gray, Ferguson to Baltimore, these fatal shooting have lead to headline news worldwide. But this reality isn’t the same for their British counterparts.

Statistics revealed by Britain’s Home Office show just how uncommon it is for the UK’s police to use guns. Police in England and Wales discharged their firearms on just seven occasions from April 2015 to March 2016. This contrasts to statistics in the U.S. Since Mike Brown’s agonising death in Ferguson two years ago, over 2000 people have been killed by police. For 2000 people to die unjustly, something must be wrong and something needs to be fixed.

Last night, a U.S. citizen was killed and five other people were injured in a knife attack in central London. Armed officers were called to the scene straight away and even with guns, they managed to detain the suspect just with the use of a Taser. Now I’m not saying British police are saints and they never slip up or do anything wrong but they certainly know how to handle situations with minimal casualties.

So what can U.S. law enforcement learn from Britain’s police?

The British police force are still able to operate efficiently and effectively when most of their officers don’t even carry guns – in place of this, specially trained officers are rapidly dispatched to occasions where the danger is reported. To join these few, an officer would have to patrol unarmed for a few years. After a thorough selection process, training would involve drilling and disciplining in even the smallest of scenarios. Being able to handle violent settings without the use of a gun shows outstanding professionalism in well-trained police officers in the UK.

Of course, we still need to take into consideration that British and U.S. police are patrolling different societies. The States have some of the world’s most open gun laws and the US also holds one of the highest rates of gun ownership.

But sometimes it’s not a matter of law enforcement unable of handling a situation without the use of guns because lets not forget that there have been many occasions where U.S. police have successfully disarmed those who pose a threat, WITHOUT killing anyone.

Black Lives Matter protest in Leeds Photographed by Hafsa Rehman.

Black Lives Matter protest in Leeds, England. Photographed by Hafsa Rehman.

But these people were white, which brings this to the topic of racial bias in police shootings. The death of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Korryn Gaines are still fresh on our minds. It is so clear that racial bias plays a role in the way U.S. police stop, use force and arrest.  As we know that Dylan Roof was oh so calmly brought into police custody after killing nine people in a Church. Oh and lets not miss James Holmes, the man who casually walked into a movie theatre in Aurora, killing 12 and wounding 70.

So for those of you who claim the police have no other choice to shoot, look at the UK, look at other areas within Europe but even more- look at your own country and the white privilege that is allowing real criminals to walk away unharmed and your law enforcement to get away with such dire, dehumanising acts.

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Annam is a 17 year old British-Pakistani determined to explore, connect and take part in just about everything. She is deeply interested in photography, comics and good food.

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