Police admit they are ‘ashamed’ of racism – and pledge new zero tolerance | UK News


Chief constables have admitted they were “ashamed” of continuing racism in policing – as they launched an action plan to stamp it out.

They promised zero tolerance in the police service and mandatory training for all officers on racism and black history.

They also aim to boost black police recruitment and retention and improve support for black victims of crime.

The move comes nearly 25 years after Lord Macpherson’s report into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence labelled the Metropolitan Police, the biggest force in the country, “institutionally racist” and published a blueprint to end police racism.

In a foreword to the new plan, the chief constables accepted change had been too slow and wrote: “We accept that policing still contains racism, discrimination and bias.

“We are ashamed of those truths, we apologise for them and we are determined to change them.

“We have much to do to secure the confidence of black people, including our own staff, and improve their experience of policing – and we will.”

The plan by the National Police Chiefs Council and the College of Policing was a response to anti-racism rallies across Britain after the murder of black man George Floyd by a white policeman in the US two years ago this week.

Protesters’ claims of police discrimination in the UK were backed by statistics which showed that black people were nine times more likely than white to be stopped and searched and five times more likely to have force used on them.

Sir Dave Thompson, West Midlands chief constable, said: “We absolutely accept that many people think we are institutionally racist. We know that through the engagement we’ve done and that’s the reality of where we are.

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“What this plan is about is us saying ‘ok our job, through this action and through our work, is to demonstrably show people we are not institutionally racist’.”

Series of scandals

The plan will be implemented nationally later this year after inviting comments from experts and the public.

It follows a series of scandals in which police officers from several forces were found to have behaved in a racist way against black people.

Chief constables denied the plan was a “woke” exercise. “How can it be woke to be more legitimate and more effective in how we stop and search people?” asked Tyrone Joyce, a temporary deputy chief constable and the UK’s highest ranking black officer.

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“And how can it be woke if all of that results in people feeling safer?”

The plan will be scrutinised by an independent panel led by barrister Abimbola Johnson who does believe the police service is institutionally racist and that chief constables should acknowledge that.

‘It will be a challenge’

A demonstrator wears a face mask with a message against racism as he attends a Black Lives Matter protest at Hyde Park, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in London, Britain, June 20, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Protesters took to the streets in London after the murder of George Floyd

Ms Johnson said: “The job of chief constables is always difficult, dealing with aspects like racism is always very emotionally charged. People will have a negative reaction to the word – sometimes more to the word than racism itself – so there are aspects that will need to be navigated by them.

“They need to work closely with Police and Crime Commissioners, with members of the communities and anti-racism groups.

“It will be a challenge and they will need to bring people along with them on the journey.”

Andy George, president of the National Black Police Association, said he hoped a return to neighbourhood policing would be part of the plan, so that white officers could get to know communities with which they would otherwise have no regular contact.

He said: “The plan must be more than a document which ticks boxes. We want, and we demand, real, lasting change.”


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