Written evidence submitted by the National Black Police Association (MAC0041)



The Macpherson Report – Twenty One Years on Inquiry



1.     Introduction


1.1. The National Black Police Association is grateful to the Committee for this opportunity to present our concerns, in relation to police powers and practice since the Committee last took evidence in July 2019 including the impact of such changes and of the lockdown on police community relations, particularly in relation to BME communities.


1.2   However, in presenting our concerns albeit very briefly, we respectfully make clear to the Committee that whilst we welcome this Inquiry. Recent national and international events have surpassed the ‘information stage’. This has only served to prolong our weariness and anger at the litany of ‘alibis for inaction’ we have heard over the years when we have repeatedly raised our concerns about systemic racism in the UK.


1.3  We respectfully suggest to the Committee, that emphasis should be focused on greater accountability and sanctions to stem individual and institutional racism and disproportionality, which is having a devastating impact on the wellbeing of BME communities and staff. This is for the simple reason that it is clear that existing policies, procedures and practices are not working, as they are piecemeal in nature and not aimed at dealing robustly with eliminating racism.


2.    Issues


Stop and Search


2.1   We are concerned that whilst the COVID19 lockdown resulted in a significant drop in the number of people being outside. The use of stop and search, in London in particular, rose sharply by 22%.[1]  Furthermore, we note that there has been an increase in an aggressive use of police powers including the use of Taser, which have been captured and circulated on social media. This has done much to undermine BME trust and confidence in the police.


2.2   Our concern is heightened by the fact that a number of our members, BME police officers, one of whom is an Inspector have been subjected to stops whilst travelling home from work after completing their shifts during the height of the lockdown. 


2.3 To compound matters, we are aggrieved by divisive comments made by the Chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Mr Ken Marsh. Who stated that bias was not a factor in stop and search but crime was. Furthermore, whilst defending police enforcement of the coronavirus lockdown, after data from the Metropolitan Police revealed that police were twice as likely to issue fines to Black people than white people. Mr Marsh stated that, ‘it threw crime out of the window. Anyone out in the first four weeks was a drug dealer[2]’.


2.4 Unhelpful comments from police leaders, like Mr Marsh. Confirm the perceptions and experiences of BME communities of the prevalence of racist attitudes and beliefs in the police. This is not only disrespectful but it is also unhelpful. Furthermore, it makes the work we undertake on behalf of our members and the communities we serve more challenging and necessary.



3     COVID19 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) – Disproportionality and Transparency


3.1   At the outset of the introduction of the Coronavirus Restrictions (England) Regulations 2020 (the Regulations), the NBPA were concerned of the potential for disproportionate targeting and outcomes for BME communities.  As such, we would like to make the Committee aware that despite persistent requests on our part for FPN data, the response which we received on 19th May to our repeated requests was the following from the National Police Chiefs Council, ‘this data is not being published at a national level anywhere and there is no current intention to do so’. We believe that this shortsighted approach to an issue, which strikes at the heart of historic concerns of racial disparity, is indicative of poor leadership at a time of crisis.


3.2  Not surprisingly, we were troubled yet not surprised by the racial disparity which has been uncovered; that BME people were 54% more likely to be fined than white people[3]; and that there was statistically significant race disproportionality in 18 police forces which issued FPN to BME and white people[4].


4      Northern Ireland


4.1  We raise with the Committee what we believe to be an inconsistent and disproportionate handling of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in Northern Ireland (NI) on the 6th June 2020 compared to that of Cenotaph Protection groups who assembled outside City Hall on 13 June 2020.


4.2   Our concerns, are rooted in the fact that there are longstanding issues on the approach of Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) to race hate crime as exemplified by the fact that it has not recommended legislative change which was confirmed to the Northern Ireland (NI) Department of Justice (DoJ) during consultations in 2016.


4.3  We highlight that enforcement was used to deal with BLM with little restraint resulting in over 70 Community Resolution Notices (CRN) and COVID 19 FPN being issued. More disturbingly, we are concerned that BLM organisers were cautioned under the Serious Crime Act (SCA) 2007; legislation used to deal with organised criminal gangs who cause the most serious harm to communities. This was in sharp contrast to Cenotaph Protection protests where no COVID 19 FPN’s were issued and the organisers were not cautioned under the SCA 2007.


4.4 This stark disproportionality, has caused anger and upset amongst our members and communities in the NI and the UK. Furthermore, we believe that the approach by PSNI could be perceived as the deliberate targeting of vulnerable communities who are not as well established in challenging as Cenotaph Protestors and similar groups. Quite simply, we believe that the BLM protestors have been treated and dealt with by PSNI as ‘low hanging fruit’.


5.    Cleveland Police


5.1  We bring to the attention of the Committee our concerns regarding information relating to the referral of race cases to the Metropolitan Police. In particular we would like to alert the Committee that we are aware that on 17th July 2014 the then Independent Police Complaints Committee (IOPC) wrote to Cleveland Police Professional Standards regarding the referral of a complaint to the IPCC. In the letter the following statement was made explicit.


“We have further noted that you have been in contact with the Metropolitan Police regarding this. We would bring to your attention the IPCC’s 2013 report regarding concerns with the way that the Metropolitan Police have dealt with complaints involving allegations of race discrimination. This should be given due consideration when deciding which force is most appropriate to investigate this matter’.


5.2               Given the nature of this information and the history of Cleveland Police and race, we wrote to the Chief Executive of the Independent Office for Police (IOPC) requesting the following information,



5.3 Whilst we appreciate that the IOPC is a newly created body, we are concerned that the response to our concerns are limited. Therefore we respectfully request that the Committee supports us in our efforts to ascertain the truth.


6.    Conclusion


6.1   We make the Committee aware that we acknowledge the few senior leaders who accept the existence of institutional racism and who push the race agenda with us. However, now more than ever, it is imperative that all police leaders are truthful, transparent and earnest in their willingness to work with us and communities to eradicate racism and the pernicious impact it has on society.



July 2020

[1] BAME people fined more than white population under coronavirus laws, 26 May 2020 Mattha Busby and Mirren Gidda, The Guardian.

[2] Former top Black Met Police Officers say racism blighted their careers, Vikram Dodd, 15th June 2020, The Guardian.  

[3] BAME people fined more than white population under coronavirus laws, 26 May 2020 Mattha Busby and Mirren Gidda, The Guardian.

[4] Liberty Investigates, 17 June 2020