Macpherson report: 22 years on

Published on 29 July 2021
'There is more to be done including building confidence in the police, especially among Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities'
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Officer

The home affairs select committee's report examines progress against some of the most important Macpherson report recommendations made following the unprovoked racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.

The committee has called for a number of recommendations including achieving a police workforce that is representative of the population by 2030 and maintaining an institutional focus on structural imbalances that lead to unequal outcomes for individuals of different ethnicities.

Today’s report is a challenging and comprehensive summary of the evidence that requires effective action. While we know policing has undergone significant changes and improvements in the last 22 years, there is still more to be done including continuing to build confidence in the police, especially among Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Every day, officers and staff across the country are tirelessly working to strengthen the relationship between the police and the public and it is only by working with the communities we serve that we can continue to build trust and help keep people safe.

The report’s urgency is clear and we will continue working with our colleagues at the National Police Chiefs’ Council to ensure the service is demonstrably anti-racist and continues tackling discrimination and racial inequalities where they exist.

Jo Noakes, director, College of Policing

Ongoing work

The College of Policing is currently undertaking a significant amount of work to support and improve diversity in policing. As part of building public confidence, two key pieces of work will be carried out which are a first in British policing:

  1. To improve community engagement by policing, there will be a national and international assessment of other successful community engagement across policing and in other areas including private industry.
  2. To review the effectiveness of police officers going into schools to understand any impacts on Black children, as well as examining differences in perceptions of how young people feel about policing.

In addition, members of the public most affected by stop and search are encouraged to sit on panels scrutinising its use under guidance released by the College of Policing.

In updated guidance, the College suggests that police forces across England and Wales should map areas where stop and search is most frequently used and ask people in those communities to scrutinise police use of the power. The aim is to further strengthen the understanding around the use of the powers and increase public confidence.

The panels are independent of the police and if required, members should be fully supported with training on the law, complaints processes and data interpretation.

The guidance suggests that police forces should also be prepared to make adaptations to ensure representation, such as changing the time and location of meetings to make them easier to attend, and consider alternatives to formal meetings, if that will encourage greater attendance.

A new independent programme of research will look at the nature, causes and consequences of racial disparity in police use of Taser.

It includes:

  • assessing officer reactions in online implicit bias testing and realistic Taser simulation exercises 
  • interviewing the public about their experiences of Taser
  • exploring interactions between officers and the public during use-of-force incidents recorded on body-worn video

The use of handcuffs and de-escalation of incidents will be evaluated and new standards in this area will be released for officers by the College of Policing next year.

Positive action

We support police forces in the area of positive action for recruitment and progression for officers and staff through the service.

Spotting talent from people currently underrepresented in policing is essential and to date more than 1,000 leaders across the service have undergone joint training by the College of Policing and the Superintendents’ Association to teach them how to spot and nurture such talent.

In addition, underrepresented groups such as women and Black, Asian and minority ethnic officers can undergo specific College of Policing training which teaches them the skills for applying for senior leadership jobs in the service.

Retention of officers and staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds is vital if the service is to become representative of the public it serves. Over the past three years we have developed the coaching and mentoring skills of more than 1,000 leaders from across the service to support the development and progression of talented individuals from groups currently underrepresented in policing. This is part of a joint initiative between the College of Policing and the Police Superintendents' Association.

Nationally the College is working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council on a joint race and inclusion plan to address existing issues and disparities.

The creation of the independent scrutiny and oversight board will help scrutinise this work to ensure our action is effective and informed by experience, as well as evidence.

Our internal policies

Last year, in direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the College took the opportunity to review its internal policies, procedures and practices.

As part of this work, the College adopted a new policy of ensuring members of underrepresented groups – including Black, Asian and other ethnic minority staff – sit on every recruiting panel in the organisation when we’re hiring for senior jobs.

The College provides training, guidance and standards for police forces to follow and all training produced by the College considers equality and diversity.

For example, training for all new recruits includes substantial coverage of police ethics, and training for police investigators includes specific focus on bias and the importance of conducting professional and ethical criminal investigations.