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Friday, July 10, 2020

Police face inquiry into possible racial bias

The Guardian reports that police across England and Wales face an inquiry to establish whether they racially discriminate against ethnic minorities in their use of force and stop and search.

They say that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) intends to use its formal powers to investigate cases and then look if any pattern of racial discrimination exists. It has vowed it can “drive real change in policing practice”:

The review comes as forces are under pressure to justify their use of stop and search after a series of high-profile cases that have been caught on camera. The Met police commissioner, Cressida Dick, apologised on Wednesday for distress caused to the British athlete Bianca Williams when officers stopped, searched and handcuffed her and her partner in west London at the weekend.

Several key indicators show police powers in England and Wales are used disproportionately against black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people. Stop and search is nine times more likely to be used against black people, and Taser use almost eight times more likely.

Police deny that ongoing racial bias is a reason. The IOPC inquiry could be one of the most significant examinations of police and race since the Macpherson inquiry in 1999 found the police to be institutionally racist.

Black people in England and Wales were almost nine times more likely to be stopped and searched in 2018-19 than white people. The paper says that the Met receives more than 250 complaints alleging racism on average each year and less than 1% are upheld.

Figures from the London mayor’s office of policing and crime show that between 2017 and 2019, 816 complaints of racial discrimination were examined. Two each year were recorded as upheld, a total of six over the three years, or 0.7%. Fifty-nine per cent were rejected, others were dealt with via different methods, and 68 complaints from 2019 are outstanding.

The outcome of this inquiry may well prove very interesting.
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