Talking Blues: the Black community speaks about its relationship with the police

05 June 1978

THE moral panic that followed the publication of The Shades of Grey report on policing in Handsworth and its central characterisation of the area as one terrorised by a gang of 200 criminal Dreadlocks provoked a powerful response from the black community. Within a few months the Affor community agency (1) had published Talking Blues, a 48-page collection of interviews with young black people, parents and church ministers that portrayed an altogether different reality – one of constant harassment, discrimination and racist behaviour on the part of the police.

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Shades of Grey: A report on Police-West Indian Relations in Handsworth

08 December 1977

JOHN BROWN, a lecturer at the Cranfield Institute of Education was invited to study policing methods in Handsworth in the summer of 1977 following fears expressed by many community leaders that police were routinely using ancient laws enacted in the period of the Napoleonic wars to stop and search young black men for no other reason than that they were young and black. Many people feared that these tactics would lead eventually to violent retaliation.

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