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Police in England and Wales to face racial discrimination inquiry

Written by Konrad Ostrowski

Police services in England and Wales will face an official inquiry into whether officers are guilty of racial discrimination against ethnic minorities.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will primarily investigate cases in which officers used stop and search or other forms of force and see if a pattern of discrimination exists.

Michael Lockwood, IOPC director general, said: “Evidence of disproportionality in the use of police powers has long been a concern which impacts on confidence in policing, particularly in the BAME communities.

Mother-of-one Carol Howard won her tribunal against the Met in July 2014. Image credit GUY BELL

“But even with the numbers and the statistics, particularly from stop and search data, we still need to better understand the causes and what can and should be done to address this.”

The statistics Mr Lockwood refers to do show that forceful police powers by officers in England and Wales are used significantly more against ethnic minorities.

Home office data shows that black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people and are nearly eight times more likely to be tasered.

Mr Lockwood added: “This is about identifying where we are seeing good and bad practice, and where there are then opportunities to drive real learning and change.

Image credit iStockphoto

“We know this is an issue of community concern. Our police forces can only police effectively with the trust and confidence of the community they serve.”

Earlier this week the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, apologised to athlete Bianca Williams for distress caused to her when officers stopped, searched and handcuffed her and her partner in London.

The inquiry may also look into whether the police are investigating allegations of racial hate crime seriously enough, and if they are failing BAME victims of crime in general.


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