As times evolve, crimes evolve – therefore the way police try to solve crimes has to evolve too. Even the most hard-nosed fan of defunding the police would struggle to disagree with this idea – but occasionally, the authorities come up with some more questionable ways of dealing with criminality.
This week, Vice reported on a north London shop called Boombox – a rap and hip hop record shop on Enfield’s Fore Street with a recording studio attached. It was staffed by a number of highly knowledgeable individuals, as record shops often are. But these weren’t record shop staff – they were actually undercover officers from London’s Metropolitan Police.
From a policing point of view, the shop served its purpose. The Enfield Independent reported in 2011 that no less than 34 people had been jailed due to footage filmed inside the premises. One of those was Kimbrad Skerrit, imprisoned over conspiracy to supply firearms and ammunition – a career criminal who shouldn’t even have been in the UK, and who public records reveal should have left in 2006.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Harwood ran the operation, which the shop was part of, and said “Operation Peyzac is seen as one of the most innovative and successful covert operations run by the Met and this is attributed to the bravery and dedication of the undercover officers which was recognized with judge’s commendations.”.
The dance music world hasn’t been quite so impressed by the revelations – infact, they’re pretty angry about it. Funk Butcher – aka Kwame Safo tells everyone exactly what he thinks in a thread of tweets below. It’s worth reading the whole thing…
Been in a bit of funk recently but it hasn’t slipped my awareness that the @metpoliceuk used their resources to fund a record shop which preyed on the unsuspecting Black men that would frequent it. The hypocrisy being that I work in an electronic music space which consistently…— Funk Butcher (@FunkButcher) November 23, 2022
Ears To The House admits we’re a bit torn on the subject. On the one hand, it’s clear as day that music is a social mobility tool for many young men in this situation – so the Met’s use of it effectively to entrap people is worrying. But on the other, 34 people were jailed as a result – and having read numerous press reports from the time, some very dangerous individuals were taken off the streets.
Let’s just say if the police are hoping to improve relations with the black community in the area, they might want to refrain from using this tactic again…