Written evidence from the Runnymede Trust (POP0081)






About us


The Runnymede Trust is the UK’s leading race equality think tank. We were founded in 1968, to provide evidence on racial inequalities, to inform policymakers and public opinion about the reality of those inequalities, and to work with local communities and policymakers to tackle them. We hold the secretariat for the APPG on Race and Community, chaired by Clive Lewis Clive Lewis MP, and publish reports, briefings and research on race equality issues.






1. The Runnymede Trust welcomes this inquiry by the Committee into policing in England and Wales, and that it seeks to specifically address the policing of minority communities as well as the loss of trust in the police force.


2. The Runnymede Trust believes that Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups within the UK are both over-represented in, and underprotected by, the criminal justice system.


3. BME groups continue to be over-represented in every level of the criminal justice system, except for enforcement, including targeting by the police, prison numbers and the youth secure estate. The government-commissioned Lammy Review (2017), which examined the  treatment of BME groups in the criminal justice system, found that BME men and women made up 25 percent of prisoners, while over 40 percent of young people in custody were from BME backgrounds despite making up only 14 percent of the population[1].


4. Trust in policing is low amongst BME communities. A survey conducted by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights found that 85 percent of Black people in the UK do not believe that they would be treated the same as a white person by the police[2].


5. We believe that urgent action must be taken to negate these disparities and to ensure that all Black and Minority ethnic peoples feel safe and protected by our police force. In our response to this consultation, we will detail the current state of policing Black and minority ethnic communities, views towards policing by these communities and what steps policing in England and Wales can take towards becoming an anti- racist police force(s).



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?


6. The Runnymede Trust acknowledges and welcomes the steps which have already been taken to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces, including the recent decision to dismantle the Gangs Matrix. However, we believe that there are several further measures which can be undertaken to improve community policing and increase trust in police officers and forces. These are detailed below:


        Stop and Search

7. Calls to address racial disparities in the exercise of police stop and search powers have been made as part of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry (1999),the Lammy Review (2017) and by the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission). The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)  in its 2016 Concluding Observations, expressed concern that ‘“stop and search” powers continue to have a disproportionate impact on persons belonging to ethnic minorities, especially young men’. Indeed, members of BME groups were more than four times more likely to be stopped than members of a white ethnic group. [3] Disproportionality was particularly acute for Black people, who remain nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts. [4]


8. Over three quarters of searches in 2019/20 resulted in no further action – 3 per cent more than in 2018/19. [5] HMICFRS commented that the persistent disproportionality of stop and search is seen as discriminatory and undermines trust in the police force among BME communities, as well as policing legitimacy. [6]


9. Under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPO) 1994, the police are given a wide power to search any person or vehicle for offensive weapons within an authorised area and specified time period without any grounds for suspicion. Black people are around 18 times more likely to be searched under Section 60 than their white counterparts. [7] In 2019/ 20 there were 18,081 Section 60 searches, with only 3.7 per cent succeeding in finding offensive weapons. [8] These glaring racial disparities, coupled with the extremely low success rate of searches, highlights the discriminatory impact of blunt and ineffective Section 60 powers. In 2014 the government introduced the voluntary Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (BUSSS), which aimed to reduce the number of Section 60 stops and searches by setting more rigorous conditions than required under Section 60, as well as to increase the transparency and accountability of Section 60 searches. [9] While arrest rates following Section 60 searches halved for white people, they remained the same for Black people, highlighting that efforts to reform stop and search do not on their own address racial disparities. [10]




10. In light of the very low ‘success’ rate of stop and search under Section 60, weighed against the negative impact on community trust in the police of the extreme disproportionality in its use against Black people, the Runnymede Trust believes that the UK government should repeal Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.


11. Until Section 60 is repealed, the UK government should ensure that use of Section 60 powers should be subject to consistent enforcement of legal standards and regular inspection.


        Use of Tasers


12. Tasers continue to be rolled out to more officers in the country, and their use is becoming more common. The use of Tasers by police forces across England and Wales has increased by more than 500 per cent over the last decade, up from 3573 incidents in 2009/10 to 23,451 in 2018/19. [11] In 2018/19, Black people were subject to the use of Tasers by police in England and Wales at almost eight times the rate of white people. [12] These statistics urgently need more scrutiny and in-depth consideration, but the Home Office has so far failed to provide data on Taser use against children and adults broken down by ethnicity, age and reason for use.


13. Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Guardian showed that children from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds were almost three times more likely to have a Taser electronic weapon used on them by police than their white counterparts. Despite evidence of the harm caused by the disproportionate use of Tasers against BME groups, in 2019 the government announced plans to provide a £10 million Taser uplift for officers, aiming to ‘significantly increase the number of officers carrying the devices in England and Wales’. [13] The extra funding enables 10,000 more officers to carry Tasers. [14]




14. In light of rapidly increasing use of tasers across England and Wales, alongside their disproportionate use on Black people and ethnic minority children, the Runnymede Trust is calling for the UK government to prohibit all use of harmful devices, including the use of Tasers, on children.


15. Alongside this, to help members of the public gain an accurate picture of police forces’ use of Tasers, the UK government should require data on their use to be published, both nationally and by police force, disaggregated by ethnicity, age, and reason for use and outcome. This would help rebuild trust in policing.


16. Finally, the UK government should ensure that the Independent Office for Police Conduct increases its oversight of the use of Tasers, and that mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners more thoroughly scrutinise the use of Tasers locally, drawing attention to any disproportionate use against BME groups and people with mental health issues.


        Deaths and use of force in custody


17. Analysis by the charity INQUEST, which monitors state-related deaths, shows that BME people die disproportionately as a result of use of restraint or force by police, raising important questions about the role of racism and discrimination in relation to their deaths. Indeed, the number of BME deaths in custody where use of force is a feature is two times greater than that of other deaths in custody where force was used. [15] Alongside this, not one police officer in England and Wales has been found guilty of murder or manslaughter following a death in custody or after police contact since INQUEST started recording in 1990. [16]


18. In 2018, a group of UN human rights experts expressed serious concerns about the death in custody in the UK of a disproportionate number of people of African descent as a result of excessive force by state security, stating that this disproportionality ‘reinforce[s] the experiences of structural racism, over-policing and criminalisation of people of African descent and other minorities in the UK’.[17]


19. Dame Angiolini published her Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody in 2017. The review stated that ‘deaths of people from BAME communities, in particular young Black men, resonate with the Black community’s experience of systemic racism, and reflect wider concerns about discriminatory overpolicing, stop and search, and criminalisation’.[18] The review called on the government to implement several important recommendations to reduce the disparities, many of which are yet to be implemented. The review specifically recommended that the IPCC (now replaced by the IOPC, the Independent Office for Police Conduct) must monitor correlations between (1) ethnicity and restraint-related deaths and (2) the use of force and ethnicity and mental health, and that data on these variables must be collected consistently across all police forces. It concluded that only in this way ‘can police forces have more confidence that their use of force and restraint is proportionate and necessary … [or] formally ascertain if force is used disproportionately on BAME people, and those suffering from mental illness.’ [19] Drawing on this data, the Home Office must devise national strategies to address discrimination issues.




20. The Runnymede Trust recommends that the UK government must not delay further in implementing the recommendations relating to ethnicity and race discrimination in the Angiolini Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody (2017).


        Police in schools and strip searches on children


21. As of March 2021, there were 683 police officers working in British schools, known as ‘safer schools officers’ (SSOs).[20] Two police forces are reviewing the role of SSOs following legal challenges that police officers in schools could have a disproportionately negative impact on BME pupils – in breach of the PSED. In both cases, uniformed SSOs were brought into minor school incidents involving BME boys, in effect criminalising them; one case was based on an allegation that turned out to be false. [21] The results of a survey of 554 young people, parents, teachers and community members in Greater Manchester highlighted the racialised context of police in schools. [22] First, because the police use measures of disadvantage, like entitlement to free school meals, SSOs are likely to be placed in schools with higher numbers of BME pupils. Second, by bringing the criminal justice system into schools, the placement of SSOs can facilitate the school-to-prison pipeline for too many BME young people. [23] A broad cross-section of respondents felt that a regular police presence would stigmatise a school and affect the wellbeing of students. We are concerned that without consultation and without assessing the likely race equality impact, the government has endorsed and expanded a programme that could permanently mark BME pupils’ school experience and future life.




22. The Runnymede Trust recommends that the UK government should require all SSOs to be withdrawn from schools in England and require all police forces in England to discontinue any further participation in Safer Schools Partnerships.


        Strip Searches of Children


23. A Freedom of Information request by The Guardian revealed that the Metropolitan Police conducted around 9,000 strip searches on children in the past five years.[24] In Hackney, 60% of the children strip- searched last year were Black.[25] A report by the Children’s Commissioner found that of the 650 children strip searched by the Metropolitan police between 2018-2020, 95% were boys, and over half of the boys searched were Black. In fact in 2018, 3 in 4 boys that were strip searched were Black (75%).[26] A report by the Children’s Commissioner's highlights the ‘dehumanising and traumatic impact’ of strip searches on children and the long term psychological damage that it can cause to those who are subjected to this increasingly used police power.




24. The power to strip search children has been used disproportionately against Black and minority ethnic children and fails to uphold the rights of the child to be safeguarded and their right to privacy; the government should end the power of the police to strip search children.


25. In any rare instances where the strip search of a child is essential, police forces should enforce their own rules and ensure an appropriate adult is always present.


26. The government should require all police forces in England to discontinue any further participation in Safer Schools Partnerships and withdraw Safer Schools Officers from schools as their presence disproportionately impacts BME communities and fails to support a safer school environment.


27. The government should invest greater funding in local authorities and schools so that they are able to provide appropriate levels of pastoral, mental health and extended youth service provision to safeguard and support children in schools.



28. In addition to these points, we note with serious concern the legislation on policing brought in by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, as well as the legislation proposed in the Public Order Bill, both of which give police extended powers despite the clear evidence that these disproportionately harm BME communities and increase mistrust between these communities and the police


29. The Runnymede Trust is particularly concerned with the creation of new protest-specific stop-and-search powers included in the Public Order Bill. We believe that this constitutes a drastic extension of existing stop and search powers, which, as detailed above, we believe to be ineffective and disproportionately target BME groups.


30. In addition to this, we are concerned that within the Public Order Bill the police are empowered to use ‘reasonable force’ to carry out stops if necessary, including tasers, firearms, batons and handcuffs. Given the disproportionate use of force against BME groups as detailed above, we are concerned that this expansion of police powers will disproportionately affect these groups.



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


31. In 1999, the Macpherson Report called for it to be a Ministerial Priority that all police services “increase trust and confidence in policing amongst minority ethnic communities.” However, twenty-two years on, persistent and damning scandals that have rocked the Metropolitan Police since the reports publication, alongside the special measures the Metropolitan police now finds itself in, have meant that there is a significant problem with confidence in the police within BME communities, particularly among young people. This is especially important for a community such as London, where 40% of the population is Black or minority ethnic.

32. Needless to say, it is not only racially minoritised communities that have suffered the consequences of the Met’s pervasive and deeply institutionalised prejudice. We recall in recent memory the murder of Sarah Everard by a Met officer; the grotesque treatment of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry by Met officers; the way in which groups of Met officers have been exposed demeaning our LGBTQ+,  Muslim and Jewish communities while “joking” about raping female colleagues, killing black children and beating spouses. There can be no doubt that Sir Mark Rowley takes his place at the head of a broken organisation – one that demands immediate action to eradicate the contagion of systemic prejudice.


33. The new Commissioner must work hard to win back trust and confidence across society; among women, Muslims, the LGBTQ+ and disabled communities to name but a few of those groups that have faced sustained abuses of police power in London. 


34. Such is the extent of the crisis of confidence in the Met, there is no time to be wasted. The police service is crying out for effective leadership. The new commissioner will need to move quickly to win the confidence of communities that, statements made by him in the past would suggest, he has not understood well.


35. Given the systemic nature of many of the problems facing the metropolitan police, from institutional racism to systemic misogyny, nothing less than the implementation of systemic change, which would endeavour to resolve embedded prejudices within the police force, is enough to begin to regain the confidence of the communities that the Met represents and serves. It is progress that Baroness Casey and Sir Mark Rowley acknowledged the systemic ‘bias’ in the Met in Baroness Casey’s Interim Report on Misconduct. We would feel more reassured if they would illustrate the difference between systemic bias and institutional racism and misogyny and, as a low hanging immediate step, adopt one of the many working definitions as defined by Machperson, Lammy, and the Runnymede Trust.

November 2022



[1] Lammy, D. (2017), The Lammy Review

[2] Joint Committee on Human Rights (2020), Black people, racism and human rights: Eleventh report of session 2019–21.

[3] Home Office (2020), Police powers and procedures, England and Wales

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] HMICFRS (2021), Disproportionate use of police powers: A spotlight on stop and search and the use of force

[7] Home Office (2020), Police powers and procedures, England and Wales.

[8] Ibid

[9] House of Commons Library (2021), Stop-and-search powers: Extension of ‘no-suspicion’ searches

[10] Shiner, M., Carre, Z., Delsol, R. and Eastwood, N. (2018), The colour of injustice: Race, drugs and law enforcement in England and Wales.

[11] Home Office (2019), Police use of force statistics, England and Wales, April 2018 to March 2019.

[12] Ibid

[13] 2Home Office (2019), Home Office announces £10 million for Taser uplift.

[14] Ibid

[15] Home Office (2019), Home Office announces £10 million for Taser uplift.

[16] Angiolini, E. (2017), Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody

[17] UN human rights experts (2018), UN human rights experts says deaths in custody reinforce concerns about ‘structural racism’ in UK

[18] Angiolini, E. (2017), Report of the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody

[19] Ibid

[20] Parveen, N., McIntyre, N. and Thomas, T. (2021), UK police forces deploy 683 officers in schools with some poorer areas targeted.

[21] Ibid

[22] Legane, R. and Joseph-Salisbury, R. (2020) Decriminalise the classroom: A community response to police in Manchester’s schools

[23] Joseph-Salisbury, R. (2020), Race and racism in English secondary schools

[24] Badshah, N., 2022. Met police urged to admit racism after strip-search of black girl in Hackney. The Guardian, [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/apr/01/met-police-urged-to-admit-racism-after-strip-search-of-black-girl-in-hackney>  [Accessed 29 July 2022].

[25] Badshah, N., 2022. Met police urged to admit racism after strip-search of black girl in Hackney. The Guardian, [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/apr/01/met-police-urged-to-admit-racism-after-strip-search-of-black-girl-in-hackney>  [Accessed 29 July 2022].

[26] Children's Commissioner, 2022. Strip search of children by the Metropolitan Police Service – new analysis by the Children’s Commissioner for England. [online] Available at: <https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/report/strip-search-of-children-by-the-metropolitan-police-service-new-analysis-by-the-childrens-commissioner-for-england/>  [Accessed 8 August 2022].