Policing the Olympics

Policemen patrol near the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Just a quick post to flag up a few things I’ve been working on over the past week or so. In typical British fashion, we complained intensely about the Olympics until the very moment it began and then promptly banned all cynicism. But Britain winning gold and mass enthusiasm for for the Games doesn’t mean we should totally ignore all the social ramifications.

On the day of the opening ceremony, I wrote this piece over at my New Statesman blog about the huge policing operation in Newham, and how the imposition of wide-ranging dispersal zones are likely to affect – as always – young people and ethnic minorities.

Last week, Stephanie Hegarty and I co-produced/presented this show for east London radio station NTS, looking at social cleansing, police and the Olympics. On the show, I interviewed Taher Gulam Hussein, who volunteers with Newham Monitoring Project – an organisation I mentioned in my New Statesman piece. Interestingly, he said that stop and search and dispersal powers weren’t actually affecting young Asian or black kids as much as expected – because they weren’t around on the streets. It appears that the huge police presence has meant that local young people have been effectively pushed out of their own area; probably one of the desired effects. Ethnic profiling is still in place, but eastern Europeans are being targeted instead. Olympic welcome, eh?

A much fuller account is on the show – as well as a discussion with Sarah Walker of the English Collective of Prostitutes about clampdowns on sex workers in Newham, and a contribution from Keegan Webb of the London Vandals website about the removal of street art across the city.

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