Written evidence submitted by UNJUST C.I.C. (POP0033)




  1. UNJUST C.I.C. is a non-profit organisation that challenges discriminatory practices and policies within the UK’s police forces, and the wider criminal justice system.


  1. This paper responds to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s call for evidence on ‘policing priorities in England and Wales[1]. This paper makes some brief remarks on the following terms of reference:


2.1.    What a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, looks like [1].


2.2.    What can be done to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including funding and on disciplinary powers when police officer behaviour falls below required standards [4].


2.3.    Specifically, what the Metropolitan Police must do to increase trust under its new Commissioner [5].


What a modern police service, fit for the 2020s and beyond, looks like


  1. A modern police force must apply progressive rather than conservative solutions to ensure public safety. For too long, the police have relied on aggressive policing methods, often reactionary, oppressive and ineffective in solving complex social ills.


  1. Police accountability is essential to a modern police service. However, accountability has receded in the eyes of the Black communities in England and Wales, leading to a collapse in public trust[2]. The long-standing perception of the police (and the government that supports them) is that they are given carte blanche powers[3]. The Peelian principle of policing by consent is not being pursued and has been greatly damaged by recent scandals involving bullying, racism, sexism and homophobia[4].


  1. Despite the existence of bodies such as the Independent Office of Police Complaints (“IOPC”) and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Policing (“HMIP”), it does not feel as if policing is being sufficiently challenged by other police officers within the service. It is clear to Black communities in England and Wales that these structures and systems are not enough to address the fundamental, hostile nature of policing in this country.


  1. UNJUST calls for an honest conversation about what policing and public safety looks like in the 21st century. This entails scrutinising policing budgets and where public funds are allocated towards keeping people safe. The police service cannot be all things to all people; for example, it is inappropriate for the police to be deployed where a person is in the throes of a mental health crisis. We need to mark out what the police are required to do (as opposed to relying on them as a panacea), and where other professionals would be better placed to deal with emergency situations. Old mechanisms that do not work are not going to cut it.



What can be done to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including on funding and on disciplinary powers when police officer behaviour falls below required standards


  1. The police must implement the reforms that communities have been demanding over decades. From Scarman and Macpherson to Angiolini and Lammy, plenty of ink and funds have been spent on public inquiries evaluating systemic discrimination by UK law enforcement and criminal justice bodies.


  1. As ever, the key question is whether there is sufficient political will for the government to drive through the recommendations of past public inquiries, and in doing so, transform the practice and reputation of policing in the UK[5].


Abolish Section 60 based stops and searches


  1. It is well established that stop and search is ineffective in reducing crime or otherwise acting as a deterrent to crime[6]. It is also clear that stop and search in general are not applied fairly. In the year ending March 2021, Black or Black British people were searched at a rate 7 times higher than those from a white background.[7] Despite this, the effectiveness of stop and search in preventing crime is repeatedly overstated and misrepresented by the police and the government[8].


  1. In particular, Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 has become a shorthand for the discrimination and injustice inherent in suspicionless stop and search powers[9].


  1. Section 60 powers, on their own merits, are woefully ineffective. Section 60 searches result in significantly lower rates of arrest compared with other stop and search powers[10]. Meanwhile, the communities who bear the brunt of Section 60 searches, feel no safer or protected by the police. Rather, Section 60 searches result in the increased harassment, victimisation and criminalisation of Black communities.


  1. It is increasingly apparent that the continued usage of Section 60 is not genuinely intended to deter criminals or reduce crime. Rather, its purpose is to enable the police to exercise a monopoly of force on Black communities as a means of social control. Such approaches towards policing are incompatible with creating a climate of trust and safety within local communities.


  1. Section 60, therefore, is not fit for purpose in the modern police force and must be repealed. We note that a Private Members’ Bill, the ‘Police Stop and Search (Repeal) Bill’ was presented to Parliament by Sir Edward Davey in 2020 in order to repeal Section 60[11]. However, this Bill has stalled at the 2nd reading and no further progress appears to have been made since then. The case for the repeal of Section 60 must remain on the agenda.



End the War on Drugs


  1. Oppressive drug enforcement policies are significant drivers in discriminatory policing[12]. Major studies have shown that in England and Wales, Black people have been stopped and searched for drugs at almost 9 times the rate of white people, while Asian people and other mixed groups were stopped and searched at almost 3 times the rate of white people[13]. Meanwhile, Black people have a lower find rate for drugs when compared to Black people[14]. In short, Black people use fewer drugs and commit fewer drugs related offences than white people, yet continue to be overpoliced for low-level, non-violent drug offences.


  1. Indeed, the evidence suggests that the police have made operational decisions to focus stop and searches on low-level drug offences, over other more serious offences[15]. For instance, around two-thirds of stops and searches in England and Wales in 2016/17 were targeted at drugs[16]. This contradicts the argument often raised by the government and police that stop and search are necessary to combat serious youth violence (commonly referred to as ‘knife crime’).


  1. The UK’s current drug enforcement policy leads to the over-criminalisation of Black communities. This, in turn, has profound consequences for the ability of those individuals to obtain employment, housing, state benefits and otherwise participate in society. The UK’s approach is simply retrogressive, whereas even the United States - the progenitor of the War on Drugs[17] - has recently initiated a review on the reclassification of marijuana as well as the pardoning of those convicted for the federal offence of simple marijuana possession[18]. The case for decriminalisation in the UK has never been greater, and along with it, the need to stop ploughing further police resources into punitive drug enforcement strategies.


  1. UNJUST therefore supports the case for the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to be repealed. The Act is ineffective in dealing with the social issue of drug consumption, and for generations has been used to over-police Black British communities throughout the country. Any future legislation must have at the heart of it, a drug policy that protects human rights promotes public health and ensures social justice.


Transform accountability systems for the police.


  1. There needs to be more successful prosecutions of police officers who kill civilians. The Black UK population is circa 3%, yet 9% of people arrested are Black and 8% of those who die in police custody are Black[19]. Moreover, since 1969, only 3 police officers have been prosecuted and convicted for the death of a person in their custody[20]. The paucity of successful prosecutions against the police further demonstrates that for too long, police officers have been able to use force against civilians with relative impunity. The perception of Black communities is stark and clear - the police are permitted to ‘get away with murder’.


  1. Meanwhile, the investigation of police complaints is lacking. In the year ending March 2021, 92% of complaints of police misconduct resulted in no further action taken against the relevant police officer. Only 1% of complaints were referred to formal proceedings[21].


  1. The IOPC - which was set up to investigate serious cases of police misconduct - lacks the teeth necessary to hold the police to account. The IOPC is beset by criticisms that its investigations take far too long to resolve.[22] There also appears to be insufficient cooperation between the IOPC and policing organisations in terms of resolving delays in investigations[23]. Such levels of institutional friction are of no benefit to the general public and damage the levels of confidence that the IOPC can command.


  1. The IOPC’s working methods also appear to be somewhat limited. There is a benefit in the IOPC being able to produce independent, thematic investigative reports. Yet the fact remains that the IOPC is unable to initiate disciplinary proceedings against a police officer(s) subject to complaints. It is the responsibility of the local police force to drive forward any further disciplinary action[24]. As a result, the police are still largely responsible for marking their own homework. A truly independent and empowered regulator would, as a starting point, be empowered to discipline officers directly as a check and balance against police bias.


Specifically, what the Metropolitan Police must do to increase trust under its new Commissioner


  1. The new Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, has entered office at a challenging time. Trust in the Metropolitan Police Service (“Met”) has plummeted. The tenure of the Commissioner’s predecessor, Dame Cressida Dick, has exposed shocking levels of institutional rot and inertia in the Met. Meanwhile, recent scandals such as Wayne Couzens’ murder of Sarah Everard, endemic bullying and racism at Charing Cross Station and the violation of Child Q have attracted widespread outrage and cast the Met into national disrepute. That the Met is now subject to a form of special measures lends a special urgency to the task of rescuing the Met from collapse[25].


  1. More than ever, the Met needs to secure the confidence of the people whom it purports to protect. Doing this requires a substantive overhaul of the Met’s culture and processes. This must go beyond a cosmetic, public relations exercise. Should the Met fail to fully grasp the task that lies before it, the consequences on public trust will be irreparable.


  1. So far, the Commissioner has taken small steps to address the institutional rot inherent in the structure of the Met. In this regard, the Commissioner’s response to Baroness Casey’s Interim Report on misconduct in the Met was encouraging. The Commissioner acknowledged that the Met was undermined by “corrupting behaviours that have gone unchallenged” and “patterns of unacceptable discrimination that clearly amount to systemic bias.”[26]


  1. However, it is not enough for the Commissioner to publish mere words. The Met needs to be taking strides and leaps, rather than steps in the right direction. As a matter of priority, we expect the Commissioner to implement the Police Race Action Plan to tackle institutionalised racism in the Met. Establishing a framework and timeline for implementing UNJUST’s recommendations set out above would be a helpful start.


  1. In particular, we want to see the Commissioner openly embrace a culture of accountability in the Met. The Commissioner’s previous remarks have given us cause for concern. Consider the following extracts from the Commissioner’s forewords to two different Policy Exchange reports:


26.1.              The disempowerment of police both by the curtailing of police powers and also the bureaucratic stifling hands of IOPC and HMICFRS that dis-incentivise police use of powers. It is not right for officers to worry about, for example, back-covering paperwork to keep HMICFRS happy or the effect on their careers of either a complaint about stop and search, or, their pursuit of a fleeing offender that ends with his injury as he crashes.”[27]


26.2.              A young Black man growing up in London is 9 times more likely to be murdered than his white peers; taking the UK as a whole, the risk of a young Black man being unlawfully killed is 24-fold that of his white contemporary. Pause and reflect on why we don’t hear that number frequently in debate on policing yet reports on the ‘disproportionality of stop and search’ seem to be released weekly. Why are we more concerned with criticising police operations than with understanding the reason for the tragic concentration of crime in a few communities? It is frankly immoral that we are obsessed with stop and search rather than concentrating on the true injustice faced by young Black men.”[28]


  1. The above remarks by the Commissioner appear to suggest that he regards robust criticism and accountability as an obstacle to effective policing, rather than an essential facet of a modern police service. This is a false dichotomy and one which we hope the Commissioner does not advocate for in the course of his tenure.


  1. Furthermore, the Commissioner’s suggestion that communities are more concerned with criticising police than with the problem of serious youth violence, is grossly misinformed. It is dismissive of grassroots organisations and individuals (including those who are Black led), who for years have worked to provide various ‘anti-knife crime’ intervention programmes, but who do not have access to the funding required to make such initiatives sustainable on a long term basis[29]. It would befit the Commissioner to engage with these organisations, as part of a wider public health approach towards serious youth violence that instils confidence rather than suspicion.


  1. Abolishing the Gangs Matrix would also signal a serious intention by the Met to roll back the racialised overcriminalisation of young Black persons as ‘gang members’ on the Met police’s database (of whom 78% were Black males, 75% were victims of violence, and 64% were ranked as being at low risk of involvement in a gang)[30].


  1. Ensuring that the recording of the ethnicity of drivers subjected to vehicle stops is mandatory.




October 2022

[1] https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/2704/ (accessed 20/10/2022)

[2] The Independent, ‘Most minority ethnic Britons no longer trust police, poll finds’ (14 Dec 2021)

[3] Insitute of Race Relations, ‘Police impunity - in and beyond the pandemic’ (2022)

[4] Financial Times, ‘The toxic culture of the Met threatens policing by consent’ (10 Feb 2022)

[5] BBC News, ‘Black Lives Matter: Have racial inequality reviews led to action?’ (2020) ; Race.Ed ‘The system isn’t working’ (2021)

[6] B. Bradford and M. Tiratelli, ‘Does stop and search reduce crime?’ (Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, 2019) ; l. Nickolls, G. Allen, ‘Police powers: stop and search’ (House of Commons Library, 2022)

[7] Home Office, ‘Police powers and procedures: Stop and search and arrests, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2021 second edition’ (Updated 5 May 2022)

[8] Full Fact, ‘Does stop and search work?’ (2019)

[9] A. Ali and N. Champion, ‘More harm than good’ (Criminal Justice Alliance, 2021)

[10] Home Office, ‘Do initiatives involving increases in stop and search reduce crime? Assesssing the impact of Operation BLUNT 2’ (2016)

[11] House of Commons, ‘Police Stop and Search (Repeal) Bill’ (2020)

[12] M. Shiner, Z. Carre, R. Delsol, N. Eastwood, ‘The Colour of Injustice: ‘Race’, drugs and law enforcement in England and Wales’ (StopWatch, Release and the London School of Economics and Political Science, 2018)

[13] Ibid, pg. vi

[14] Ibid, pg. vi

[15] Ibid

[16] Ibid

[17] Drug Policy Alliance, ‘A History of the Drug War

[18] Reuters, ‘Biden overhauls US policy on marijuana, pardons prior federal offenses’ (2022)

[19] BBC News, ‘George Floyd death: How many Black people die in police custody in England and Wales’ (2020)

[20] We refer to the police killings of David Oluwale (1969), Henry Foley (1985) and Dalian Atkinson (2016). See: Full Fact, ‘We know of one successful conviction of a police officer for the killing of someone in police custody since 1971’ (2020) ; Crown Prosecution Service, ‘PC who killed Dalian Atkinson jailed’ (2021)

[21] Home Office, ‘Police misconduct, England and Wales year ending 31 March 2021’ (2022)

[22] UK Parliament, ‘Progress made but many still feel let down by police complaints system’ (2022)

[23] Ibid

[24] IOPC, ‘What we investigate and next steps

[25] BBC News, ‘Met Police put into a form of special measures’ (2022)

[26] Sir Mark Rowley QPM, ‘Letter from Commissioner to Baroness Casey’ (2022)

[27] R. Walton and S. Falkner, ‘Rekindling British Policing: A 10-Point Plan for Revival’ (2019), pg. 6

[28] S. Falkner, ‘Knife Crime in the Capital: How gangs are drawing another generation into a life of violent crime’ (Policy Exchange, 2021), pg. 7

[29] B. Kinsella, ‘Tackling Knife Crime Together - A Review of Local Anti-Knife Crime Projects’ (2011) ; The Voice, ‘Social media is fueling the knife crisis’ (2021), whereby Faron Paul stated:

[30] StopWatch, ‘The gangs matrix’ (2022)