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PC Blakelock's death was darkest of days for policing

PUBLISHED: 16:50 10 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:30 07 September 2010

IT IS right and appropriate that the death of PC Keith Blakelock is remembered annually: it marks the nadir of police community relations in north London and recalls a time of turbulence and disarray, the like of which we will hopefully never see again. A

IT IS right and appropriate that the death of PC Keith Blakelock is remembered annually: it marks the nadir of police community relations in north London and recalls a time of turbulence and disarray, the like of which we will hopefully never see again.

As Tottenham pastor Nims Obunge said at Monday's moving ceremony, the commemoration is a painful reminder of what happens when community relationships with police go wrong.

Keith Blakelock was an ordinary officer who would probably have been enjoying the first years of his retirement in Muswell Hill had he lived. Instead he paid the ultimate price for that seething community tension of 23 years ago, as it manifested itself in the most brutal and shocking manner.

And so the thought remains, could such a thing ever happen again? If Sir Ian Blair has left any legacy of his time as chief of the Metropolitan Police, it is that he took community policing to a new level. At the time his desire to place a community policing team in every ward seemed to be an extravagance, but on that bold and innovative promise, he has most certainly delivered.

There are still many inconsistencies in the standard of community policing, but people in the west of Haringey are very fortunate to see it at its very best. And it is fair too say that Sir Ian's vision has made a difference right across the borough of Haringey, including those more challenging areas like the once infamous Broadwater Farm Estate where Keith Blakelock lost his life.

Alongside the giant strides made in the policing of deprived areas, there seems to be a sense of altruism abroad that was absent for much of the more selfish 1980s. 'Community spirit' has made a comeback. People in mainstream society seem more concerned with saving the planet for future generations to enjoy, rather than with lining their own pockets, the rallying cry for so many during the Thatcher years.

The current economic crisis looks set to deepen and will place its own strains on society, but the need for good community policing has been put at the heart of things and in that sense, PC Blakelock's death has not been in vain.

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