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Webinar: Tackling Discrimination within the Police Force: How to improve police practice and create a more representative force

Tuesday, July 27th 2021

Key Speakers Include:

Professor Lawrence W. Sherman KNO, Director of the Police Executive Programme, University of Cambridge

Richard Hobbs, UK Policing Lead at Deloitte

Sheldon Thomas, Founder of Gangsline

Cherie Johnson, Expert on Girls in Gangs

Katrina Ffrench, Founder and Director of UNJUST

Sal Naseem, Regional Director for London at The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)

Dr Angela Herbert MBE, Chair of the Violent Crime Prevention Board

Event Details Website Register to Attend

Following the Black Lives Matter protests, there has been a renewed focus on discrimination within UK policing. Since 2014, there have been nearly 5,000 complaints to the police regarding their use of stop and search powers, and according to the IOPC, black people are nine times more likely to be stopped than white people in England and Wales. Black people are also underrepresented in police forces across the UK, which many argue explains issues of discriminatory practice. While 3.3% of the population is black, only 1.2% of the police force is, and out of 44 police forces across the country, 41 have an underrepresentation of black officers.

In the last year the IOPC have subsequently launched an investigation into police discrimination which promises to examine the use of stop and search, police use of force as well as cases where victims from BAME communities have felt unfairly treated by the police, including not treating allegations of hate crime from BAME complainants seriously.

It has been over two decades since the publication of the Macpherson Report, which followed the murder of Stephen Lawrence and branded the London’s Metropolitan Police as “institutionally racist”. Since then there has been an improvement in the extent to which the police represent the communities they work in, but in the last 10 years progress appears to have stalled with the percentage of black officers barely increasing. The current government’s announcement of its plan to increase the police force by 20,000 officers, has been described as a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to redress the racial disparities in officer numbers and could reinvigorate the upward trend in the share of BAME officers. Yet, the recent expansion in the use of stop and search powers could further damage relations between the police and BAME communities, thus creating greater obstacles to making a more representative force.

Nevertheless, issues of discrimination in police practice go beyond the numbers of BAME police officers. The Lammy Review, published three years ago, highlighted a number of issues and made several recommendations that could reduce discriminatory practice. Despite making up just 14% of the population, BAME men and women make up 25% of prisoners, while over 40% of young people in custody are from BAME backgrounds. In 2018-19, a person from the black community was more than nine times as likely to be stopped and searched by police compared to a white person. Research also shows that a black person is also three times as likely to be arrested, and five times as likely to have force used against them. Amnesty International stated that although black youths were responsible for only 27% of the violence committed by young people in the capital, they comprised 72% of the Metropolitan Police’s gangs matrix, which flags offenders for intensive monitoring.

Implicit biases are perhaps a key driver in discriminatory practice. Studies show that police officers, including black officers, are more likely to interpret ambiguous behaviour as aggressive when coming from a black person than a white person. When reaching for an object, officers are also more likely to assume that it is a gun if the person in question is from a BAME background. A number of police forces have taken steps and initiated training courses to help reduce implicit biases, but this is far from uniform across the country.

A year after the announcement of a review into police discrimination by the IOPC, this timely symposium will provide police forces and other key stakeholders with the opportunity to understand how discrimination manifests itself within these institutions, identify key strategies to overcome them internally, and devise better and fairer police practices to work with sections of the BAME community.


  • Discuss ways in which implicit biases can be reduced to prevent discriminatory practice
  • Develop strong community partnerships to build trust and understanding
  • Learn about the efforts to improve the representation of BAME officers in the police force, and how this can be improved
  • Discuss the government’s aim to introduce 20,000 new officers, and how this can be used to make the force look more like the communities they police
  • Reflect on the Macpherson report, and examine whether the “institutional racism” it described has been tackled
  • Analyse internal police complaints procedures and whether there is evidence of discriminatory practice
  • Examine how “institutional racism”, as described in the Macpherson Report, should be tackled
  • Identify key actions on the back of the Lammy Review
  • Learn about the challenges posed by implicit biases, and leading best practices within police forces
  • Reevaluate certain rules and powers that are the most susceptible to discrimination, as studies of fines handed out during lockdown have shown
  • Identify and capitalise on opportunities to build trust among young people, especially from BAME backgrounds

To register to attend this webinar, please click here.