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A string of arrests by police of people who allegedly racially abused Black players in the England national football team has highlighted the ugly extent of everyday racism in the United Kingdom. But with institutional racism in the UK also a persistent problem, police forces themselves are being challenged to address racially discriminatory practices.
A recent report by a watchdog that assesses policing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland found that police are still disproportionately using their powers against Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals. The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found that Black individuals are 5.7 times more likely to have force used against them by police, compared to white people. The report also says that Black people are almost nine times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people.
About two-thirds of minority ethnic people surveyed by Hope Not Hate in 2020 feel the police are biased against them. In one major case, justice campaigners want greater scrutiny into how Dyfed-Powys police handled an incident where Siyanda Mngaza alleged she had been racially attacked following a dispute – but was instead the only person arrested. She was later charged and imprisoned.
The HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams says racial disproportionality in policing may pull more Black and ethnic minority individuals into the criminal justice system, in turn hampering their education and work prospects and hurting families. But Home Secretary Priti Patel continues to defend stop and search and is sponsoring a bill that would expand police powers.
Rights groups are among those warning that the proposed legislation “will only increase racial disparities” in policing. Meanwhile, Black and minority officers have reported racism at work that ultimately undermines efforts to build a service more representative of the wider public.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at how police forces in the UK disproportionately target Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and what reforms are needed to end racial disparities in policing.
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