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#Voice35Years: Were we to blame?

CONTROVERSIAL: Race relations were discussed in The Voice’s
January 15, 1983 edition, asking if police would scrap racial
breakdown of crime statistics after community pressure.

POLICE and race relation matters involving crime statistics was the lead story in The Voice on January 15, 1983 as the 19th edition of the newspaper was published 35 years ago.

The headline on the front cover of The Voice posed the question ‘Police to scrap race figures?’, which stemmed from reported media pressure and feedback from black people upset by the way the crime figures were presented in the past.

One officer was quoted by The Voice as saying: “It was done with the best of intentions, but we got our fingers burnt, partly because of the sensational way it was handled by most of the press. We got a lot of flak from the black community who felt they had been labelled as criminal – although it was specifically said by the assistant commissioner that the majority of them were not.”

The Voice report also said that the then Met Commissioner Sir Kenneth Newman would hold the crime statistics conference later in the year and the decision to include a racial breakdown or not would be made. Police were also anxious to dispel rumours that the controversial SPG squad, whose actions led to the infamous Brixton riots of 1981, would be disbanded.

Also featured on the front cover of this issue was news that a memorial service to commemorate the second anniversary of the deaths of 13 children in the New Cross Fire of 1981 was being organised and was set for January 16 at the St Mary’s Parish Church in Lewisham High Street.

Over on page two, the lead story headline read: ‘Your security is at risk! Check all ID cards’ and reported on the sad story of an elderly Haringey man who died from a heart attack two weeks after a con man robbed him of £800. The Voice said the con-man was posing as a local CID officer pretending to check up on alleged criminal activities of the man’s regular welfare visitor who, he was told, was swapping forged bank notes for real ones.

The chair of Haringey’s Social Services Committee was forced to issue a warning to all local elderly people to be vigilant and double check the identity to all callers to their home. The lead story on page three announced that the planned rebel cricket tour to South Africa had been called off because of publicity and pressure brought to bear on the players from governments and national cricket boards.

BLACK EXCELLENCE: fashion designer Bruce Oldfield made page nine.

The headline read: ‘South African tour off – rebel cricketers chicken out’. On page 9, The Voice also caught up with black fashion designer Bruce Oldfield in an interview in which he charted his career from being an orphan in a foster home to designing fashion for some of the wealthiest and famous people from London, New York and Paris.

In the interview Oldfield said: “Part of what I do will always be exclusive because of the price of the fabrics I use and the time that goes into the making of the garment.

“It would be great if my clothes were more accessible, but I can’t even manufacture a T-shirt below £80 and a dress cost anything from £700 upwards.”

The Voice is celebrating its 35th birthday this year. Share your The Voice memories, comments and birthday wishes on social media, using the hashtag #Voice35Years. Each week we will be digging into The Voice archive.

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