by John ( arey LONDON churchmen accused the Metropolitan Police this
eek of arrogance and insensitirity in their approach to the problems of community relations in the city.
Their mounting frustration was increased by the decision of Scotland Yard's community relations branch to reject a proposed meeting between clergy and Sir David McNee. the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The proposal had come from the London Churches Group of the London Voluntary Service Council: the Group had picked a six-man delegation which was to include Bishop Philip Harvey, bishop in north London.
Scotland Yard indicated that the delegation was unacceptable: it said that Sir David, as the head of an organisation in an international city, would prefer to meet "national Church leaders" rather than local clergy.
The commissioner's attitude was strongly criticised this week by the Rev John Hastings, secretary of the Methodist Church's Division of Social Responsibility. Mr Hastings said that the police seemed to feel that they could lay down the terms of who they would meet and what they would discuss, without reference to anyone else.
National Church leaders were not necessarily in a position to know the special problems of London, Mr Hastings said: "We have great respect for most ordinary policemen on the beat in London. But we have found that the higher you get up the police hierarchy the more difficulties you find. Their method of doing things is driving people up the wall. And if we who want to help the police feel it, how much more must others who are not so sympathetic?"
In Liverpool, meanwhile, Archbishop Derek Worlock has again urged the widest possible consultation with all the people of Toxteth about the hest way of rebuilding their community after the recent riots.
In a speech to the annual general meeting of Merseyside probation and after-care service last week he stressed in particular the need to counter the widespread feelings of "alienation" among blacks.
"How is the invisible barrier to be penetrated?" he asked. "I suspect that the truth is that the black community must tell us, not we tell them. If we are looking for methods of how to involve them and to help them to overcome the sense of alienation, the only short answer has to be `in their way'.".
No solution could be imposed from the outside. and there had to be more discussion with those who had emerged as the real spokesmen for black people, he said.