On a Sunday morning in July, Darren Brady was at home when two policemen visited to accuse him of a crime, without reading his rights. They offered a choice: he could attend a re-education course, at a cost to him of about $80; or face arrest. He refused to sign their papers. When the police came back, they offered the same choice, but this time both sides were filming. The footage is shocking.
Western policing is on the road to hell, paved with woke intentions.
Brady’s supposed crime was to repost on social media a graphic satirizing a police state, with a swastika within the national flag. The national flag is Britain’s. Brady and the police in this story are British. But make no mistake, America is on the same road—although the road is receiving little attention.
Americans are familiar with a two-sided story: on one side are the law enforcers; on the other are woke authoritarians and their progressive enablers in the ruling Democratic Party—enablers who downgrade crimes, bail out rioters, demonize law enforcement, and defund the police.
But what if law enforcers themselves go woke, and use the criminal justice system to enforce the cultural revolution? That’s where Britain is. That’s where America is heading. Britain is further down that road, but America is on the same road to hell, paved with woke intentions.
We should have heard Brady’s story from mainstream news media, from outraged local politicians, from higher governmental overseers. Alas, we know his story only because Brady contacted Laurence Fox, star of television hits such as “Lewis,” now leader of a young political party (Reclaim) that campaigns for old-fashioned liberties. Fox had posted what Brady reposted. Fox told me that no police force has ever contacted him about the post, “which was strange seeing as I was the original ‘criminal’.” Brady was targeted because he lives within the jurisdiction of a woke constabulary (Hampshire).
When two policemen sat down with Brady in his garden for the second time, Fox was waiting in the wings, livestreaming on his phone. A video photographer was filming higher quality footage that Fox later posted on YouTube. At Fox’s shoulder was Harry Miller, a retired policeman, who had defeated his local police force (Humberside) in the High Court in 2020, and the highest court of appeal in 2021, after police logged his social media post on transgenderism into a national database of “non-crime hate incidents.” Both courts made clear that the police had suppressed Miller’s free speech. The court of appeal clarified the unlawfulness of Humberside’s actions.
Now Miller is listening to two Hampshire policemen confidently tell Brady that he has committed a crime. They still don’t read him his rights. Miller furiously surprises the two coppers, pointing out their procedural errors and misrepresentation of the law.
Amazingly, the coppers escalate. They claim Brady has breached the Communications Act. This Act was intended to prevent broadcasters and newspapers from distributing content declared by a national regulator to be commonly offensive. The coppers conflate the offense in law with the irrelevant, overly encompassing definition of “non-crime hate incident,” i.e., anything that anybody finds offensive, subjectively, of their own definition, without any other judgment.
The two policemen call for backup. Eventually five police are in Brady’s drive. Time drags on chaotically and angrily, in full view and hearing of Brady’s neighbors, as they wait for a caged van. Eventually around 10 coppers handle Brady. Think of the real crimes they could have been tackling. Miller is arrested for obstructing the police. Brady is next. They spend hours in jail waiting to be booked. Late at night they are released, pending further notice, but the charges against Brady are dropped the next day. Miller isn’t so lucky: obstructing the police is a real crime, unlike “causing anxiety,” which is how the leader of this sorry police team kept explaining Brady’s offense.
Why would police go through with these arrests—live online, knowing that the charges would not be prosecuted? Hampshire police are abusing criminal justice procedures to suppress challenges to the woke orthodoxy.
Social justice is a lot easier than criminal justice. Who wants to chase down violent offenders when one could harass a retiree in his back garden? Who wants to inflame the woke media when free-thinking patriots such as Brady (a veteran of the Army’s counterterrorism in Northern Ireland) don’t get the same attention?
Hampshire constabulary is not an outlier. Public trust in Britain’s police is unprecedentedly low, although the failings of the police, like the failings of the National Health Service and schools, are relegated by mainstream parties and media behind climate change and inequity. Britons were dissatisfied with rising crime and bad policing before the events of 2020 revealed the unfairness of how the police handle lockdowns, protests, and speech.
How did British policing sink so low? Here are the warning signs for Americans.
First, beware the buck-passing. Law and order are ultimately the responsibilities of the Home Office in London, but the Home Office plays a duplicitous game—denying powers when things go wrong, claiming credit when things go right. For instance, the Metropolitan Police’s chief from 2017 to 2022 was the calamitous Cressida Dick. London’s crime rocketed, while her officers marched for gay pride and danced with climate protesters obstructing the highways and bridges. The Home Office, despite serving a nominally Conservative political administration, refused to intervene, but blamed the thoroughly woke mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. By contrast, Ron DeSantis, the thoroughly conservative governor of Florida, has suspended a woke state’s attorney. Unfortunately for Americans, DeSantis is an outlier.
Britons who complain to the Home Office about local policing are wasting their time. The Home Office says it has delegated policing to local authorities. But local authorities claim insufficient powers to reform their own constabularies.
In theory, the Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) bring democratic accountability back to county policing. They were first elected in 2012. The trouble is: local democracy is still unfamiliar to most Britons; turnout is routinely below 25 percent. Like some elected sheriffs in American counties, PCCs mobilize small interest groups, which tend to be the police and woke lobbyists. If you’re a candidate who promises to hold woke police to account, then expect your promises to be characterized as fascist.
Second, watch out for the institutionalized frustration of victims. Woke police, and their friends in social media and mainstream media, exaggerate social injustices and frustrate the reporting of crime. Take Dorset, a rural county that routinely elects conservative members of Parliament, but boasts a woke police force and a violent crime rate that has risen annually since 2011. You won’t get that data from Dorset Police itself. Its webpage used to hide its “statistics” within a long list of obtuse questions and answers. Now it redirects to a national website.
Telephoning a typical constabulary puts you on hold for dozens of minutes, even on the emergency line. In Dorset, an audio recording will tell you that reporting online is easier. Yes, it’s easier for the police, though not for you. Online, you’ll go through five webpages of invasive questions about your identity and motivations. The first webpage asks you if the crime is ongoing. Tick that box, and you’ll be told to telephone 101. The automated recording will tell you to call 999 if the crime is “happening now.” But if you call 999, you’ll be ignored for more minutes, only to be berated for wasting police time, even if you report ongoing trespass, break-ins, dangerous driving, or intimidation. Not surprisingly, residents give up reporting crimes. That way, police forces artificially lower their recorded rates of crime, and leave themselves more time to referee social media.
Third, beware of centralization. Centralization is good for efficiency, but builds remoteness from the public. Police stations have disappeared from Britain’s towns, to be replaced by huge “headquarters,” from which police rally only for terrorism and other rare crimes. Most crimes are investigated over the phone, to no effect. Brady complains to the officers who arrest him that Hampshire police fail to resolve 98 percent of reported crimes. Paradoxically, centralized police forces can’t handle the big stuff either, as Dorset police proved during running battles between London gangs on Bournemouth’s beaches at the end of lockdown in 2020.
Fourth, watch out for the administrative state. Where did the idea for “non-crime hate incidents” come from? Not from elected government. Rather, that policy was established by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)—a sort of police union and think tank—one of the infamous “quasi non-governmental organizations” (QUANGOs) to which governments shed their responsibilities. The ACPO develops national policy, but is not accountable to any government, except in drawing some of its budget.
Fifth, watch out for national agencies enabling local abuses. Britain’s National Crime Agency is often described as Britain’s FBI, but it doesn’t investigate police corruption or nonperformance. Constabularies are left to investigate themselves, or, in rare cases, to investigate each other on the orders of the Home Office. The Home Office itself employs four times as many officials doing public relations than in investigating fraud.
Where has that got Britain? Think of the many constabularies that ignored sexual abuse of white and Hindu girls by gangs of mainly Muslim second-generation immigrants, going back to the 1990s, because police did not want to be accused of racism. Official inquiries have exposed the scandals, without holding any officer criminally accountable. Notably, in Britain’s current leadership contest, not one candidate has mentioned woke policing.
In America since 2020, we have already seen federal agencies turn a blind eye to riots that killed dozens in the name of social justice, and to the Biden family’s grift, while inventing a far-right insurrection in January 2021, and a white supremacist conspiracy in the ranks of the police and military. A whistle-blower reveals that the FBI is listing America’s historic flags as “domestic terrorism symbols,” including the Betsy Ross Flag, which the FBI HQ itself flies!
Most of Britain’s police forces have switched from law enforcement to woke enforcement. America is on the same road.