HC 1456 Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the National Black Police Association (NBPA)
The National Black Police Association (NBPA) comprises of 46 Affiliated Associations established within Police Constabularies and Agencies across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
As a Charity, our objective is to promote good race relations and equality of opportunity within the Police Services of the United Kingdom and the wider community.
We work in the interest of the UK Police Services as an integral partner to ensure equitable service for all and for the Black and minority staff whom we represent. We also advocate the needs and expectations of Black and minority ethnic communities by delivering and supporting strategies and initiatives which have a positive impact on all.
The NBPA welcome the opportunity to contribute to this inquiry particularly as we have a proven track record of supporting communities and policing at critical difficult moments.
Riots and disturbances are not new phenomenon in the context of British history, we have documented incidents from 1196 poverty riots through to the most recent incidents triggered in Tottenham following the shooting of Mark Duggan by the Metropolitan Police. Jonnson, in his paper, “the illusion of inclusion,” explains how riots and responses are cyclical, “terribly familiar cycle. The cycle goes something like this. There is a problem which is followed by a conference, the conference is followed by research. The research reinforces what we already know....Then nothing happens” (Hall, 1987, taken from Benyon and Solomos, 1987, p.45).
Incidents of note are listed for information:
Violence breaks out in Notting Hill Gate, west London.
Riots in Southall lead to the death of Blair Peach at the hands of the Special Patrol Group (SPG) of the Metropolitan Police.
More than 300 people are injured, including 200 police officers, crowds hurl petrol bombs in Brixton, South London.
Riots in Handsworth, violence break out when a black woman, Cherry Groce, is mistakenly shot by police who burst into her home.
Broadwater Farm. PC Keith Blakelock is murdered with knives and machetes during rioting.
Stephen Lawrence murdered—persistent campaign by Stephen’s parents Neville and Doreen Lawrence leads to the Labour party commissioning a public inquiry.
Three nights of fighting causes more than £1m worth of damage after gangs of Asian youths run amok in Manningham, Bradford.
Lawrence Inquiry report published—total of 70 recommendations in all and concluded that the Metropolitan Police were Institutionally Racist.
Saw a large scale disturbance erupt in Bradford, West Yorkshire, the battle lines were drawn along that of ethnicity.
On 21 April, there was a riot in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol following a raid by police on a squat named “Telepathic Heights”.
Riots in London and elsewhere, following the shooting of Mark Duggan during a Trident operation.
From the cycle we reference a series of reports which contain numerous recommendations (Scarman, 1982, the HMIC thematic series “Winning the Race”, Lawrence 1999, Cantle 2001, 2004 and 2005).
The recommendations from these reports, if implemented and maintained would most likely have given us an opportunity to demonstrate their effectiveness. However, as we see the agenda changing, many of the recommendations which sought to challenge the status quo have been ignored, implemented then phased out or identified as impractical or too costly. Including:
Ministerial priority of trust and confidence—Removed.
A representative police service—Not achieved.
Proportionate and fair use of stop and search—Worse than 1999.
Greater police accountability for their actions—IPCC.
Increased equality training—Diversity units disbanded, diversity training minimal.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to have a HM Inspectorate for Equality and Diversity—Removed assistant HM Inspectorate for Race and Diversity.
Community Cohesion agenda—Absent from policing policies.
In 1985 Cherry Groce, was shot by police, local residents went to Tottenham police station requesting answers. The information was not provided, later that day disturbances grew into riots.
In 2011 Mark Duggan, was shot by police, local residents went to Tottenham police station requesting answers. The information was not provided, later that day disturbances grew into riots.
It is imperative in a policing environment as complex as London that officers and staff have cognisance of the potential for incidents to escalate based on local factors.
We are yet to hear how Operation Trident and CO19 (Specialist Firearm Command branch of the Metropolitan Police Service) came to be in the situation which resulted in the death of Mark Duggan—which we will not comment on—we are however, concerned by the initial information that suggested that there had been an exchange of gunfire, when it was known that minutes before Duggan was tweeting that he was “being followed by the feds”. By the time corrective information had been officially released it was too late for many who had summized that the police had not told the truth again.
It is absolutely crucial that information provided by the police is accurate and timely
This prevents false representations and encourages the public to trust the content of the information provided, this is currently not the case and maybe linked to public statements made by the police in the cases of Jean Charles DeMenezes, and Ian Tomlinson which were both found to be inaccurate.
The NBPA review 2009 “ten years after Lawrence” by Crichlow identifies UK wide concerns of the retrograde steps with regard to minority ethnic policing issues and reluctance of the police service to accept that Institutional racism continues to be an issue:
Majority of respondents to the NBPA survey stated that trust and confidence on the part of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Officers/Staff and BME Community in their force remained problematic.
This analysis paints a picture of inconsistency across the country in relation to the implementation of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Recommendations.
Other peculiar stereotypical notions have emerged over time through narratives, most notably the notion that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff are treated more favourably than white members of staff, this appears to have contributed to the phenomenon of members of staff being subjected to unwarranted pressure which potentially leads to unlawful acts of discrimination.
Coupled with recent suggestions to delete the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Business (EDHR) portfolio, to mainstream equality and to only formally consult with statutory bodies (ie not the NBPA, British Association for Women in Policing or Gay Police Association etc) it is difficult to picture an inclusive police organisation that consistently has the trust of the public.
Although these series of riots started with a Black man being shot, the events in totality were not about Race, although some reports and media responses have attempted to focus in these areas. Neal (2003), highlights how highly charged media reporting on Race issues polarises opinion.
Community Cohesion and the Police
In response to the “Northern disturbances” in 2001 the Home Secretary established a Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion or review team and was established to identify good practice, key policy issues and new and innovative thinking in the field of community cohesion” (Cantle, 2001).
Cantle identifies a way forward linked to the community cohesion agenda with additional dimensions to Race.
The Commission on Integration and Cohesion (CIC, 2007), “The commission’s” definition of an integrated and cohesive community has stated that it must have:
a defined and widely shared sense of the contribution of different individuals and groups to a future local or national vision;
a strong sense of an individual’s local rights and responsibilities;
a strong sense that people with different backgrounds should experience similar life opportunities and access to services and treatment;
a strong sense of trust in institutions locally, and trust that they will act fairly when arbitrating between different interests and be subject to public scrutiny;
a strong recognition of the contribution of the newly arrived, and of those who have deep attachments to a particular place—focusing on what people have in common; and
Positive relationships between people from different backgrounds in the workplace, schools and other institutions.” CIC (2007).
There are further definitions provided by the Local Government Association (LGA) (2002) and Communities and Local Government (CLG) (2007).
Smikle’s (2010) research “What does community cohesion mean to policing?” identifies that most police services in England and Wales (94%), have no policy on “Community Cohesion”, furthermore, that there was no single agreed definition, limited training and that 67% of the respondents had a fair/poor understanding of the term.
The absence or lack of community cohesion as an impact on people to have the ability to capacity build and to prevent and manage tensions.
The concept of zero tolerance means many things to many people, the notion that any deviation from the rule of law would be dealt with robustly minimizes the opportunity for officers and staff to use discretion or to treat individuals as individuals. The popular belief was that this approach in New York was all positive, this is incorrect. During this period in 1997 Abner Louima a Haitian man who was assaulted, brutalized and forcibly sodomized with the handle of a bathroom plunger by New York City police officers after being arrested outside a Brooklyn nightclub.
We believe that, there is a real risk that unlawful actions including excessive use of force by police officers will be become a part of every day life for communities if a programme with the term “Zero tolerance” were to be implemented. The excessive use of Section 60 search powers coupled with the very low arrest rates is indicative of a generalized random approach to detect crime that alienates innocent members of the public.
Part of the fundamental aspects of the Peelian principles relates to the effectiveness of the police: “Whether the police are effective is not measured on the number of arrests, but on the lack of crime. Above all else, an effective authority figure knows trust and accountability are paramount. Hence, Peel’s most often quoted principle: The police are the public and the public are the police” (Lentz & Chaires, 2007).
Targeted, intelligence led operations with appropriate checks and balances will lead to greater support for policing and police activities.
The firm policing and community activity that brought the disturbances to an end are wholly supported by the NBPA.
The NBPA acknowledge the expertise from police specialists from outside of the UK, we acknowledge however that a large number of external policing specialists operate in very different environments.
Our police service operates in a consensual policing environment, in the main, without firearms (handguns or rifles). The tactics which can legitimately be employed in this environment may not necessarily translate when imported from places such as the USA. We do not automatically discount external advice, in fact we welcome the concept of multi-point entry into the police service which should improve minority representation (NBPA Submission to Winsor).
Dhani and Kaiza (2011) Police service strength data shows an increase in minority ethnic officers by 0.2% since 2010. However, there is actually a quantative reduction in minority ethnic officers from 2010. More worryingly, the number of ACPO minority ethnic officers has reduced from nine to three over the same period.
Since its’ inception the NBPA has and continues to support recruitment and progression initiatives, including the National Policing Improvements Agency (NPIA) extension of National Senior Careers Advisory Service (NSACAS) support to Chief Inspectors, supporting the High Potential Development Scheme (HPDS) through circulations, executive meetings and advertisements on the NBPA website. The shockingly low representation of BME women in policing is highlighted in the Gittens report form 2004, reinforced by the fact that there has only ever been one BME female officer in ACPO in the history of policing, this is quite frankly a disgrace.
The public, especially young people, need to see role models within policing that they can identify with and see that they too can succeed within that environment. The NBPA women’s’ group has highlighted the need for mentors and support for BME officers and staff. According to Peel’s principles, “the police are the public and the public are the police” this concept is linked to the trust and confidence agenda. The homogeneity of the police service limits the nature and scope of effective policing, the ability to function in diverse environments can be and has been compromised by the lack of diversity (surveillance, counter terrorism, vice investigations, test purchasing, police corruption, covert operations and Operation Trident).
NBPA Response to the Riots 2011
In support of the policing of the initial disturbances the NBPA publicly denounced the violence circulating a press release to the media (2011 Tottenham riots).
This was closely followed by a round table discussion with local BPAs in London, Bristol, West Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool as it was clear to us that the trouble was likely to move beyond the capital:
Early liaison with Chief Officers in force.
Community meetings and preventative solutions.
Youth programmes accessed to cascade information to prevent young people being swept up in the disturbances.
Social media used to discourage anti-social and criminal behaviour.
We suggest that having social media blocked is not the best way forward. We recognise the importance of such a decision and would welcome this to be done on a voluntary basis by the service provider as opposed to one mandated through legislation.
These regional meetings allowed other organisations and stakeholders to prepare for likely disorder and ensured that pro-active measure could and were taken which minimised the spread of violence. These meetings were minuted, confirming the positive contributions BPAs around the UK make to policing.
In addition to the above the NBPA attended Community tension meetings at New Scotland Yard with DAC Stephen Kavanagh, Baroness Warsi, Cindy Butts, Strategic Alliance of Communities Rejecting Youth Destruction (SACRYD) and other community members to discuss preventative measures and solutions to the disturbances.
A further meeting took place at Portcullis House on Wednesday 10 August 2011 with the Rt Hon Tom Brake MP, Baroness Hussein-Ece, Councillor Duwayne Brookes, Supt Leroy Logan MBE, Bevan Powell MBE, DCI Shab Choudhury, DS Wendell Henry.
We discussed the causes and impact of the riots and suggested areas that would mitigate and prevent further unrest which included the Met BPA VOYAGE programme and the NBPA Trust and Confidence Task Force proposal (NBPA press release, 2011).
The NBPA and local BPAs continues to meet with community members and stakeholders as we believe that it is the right thing to do.
Trust and confidence is again a critical issue in police and community relationships.
The police service needs to maintain a corporate memory which will prevent history repeating itself.
It is absolutely crucial that information provided by the police service and partner agencies is accurate and timely.
Community Cohesion (CoCo) needs to be a crucial component of the policing lexicon with policies which support the ethos of CoCo.
Phrases such as “Zero tolerance” should be avoided unless it is part of a specific strategy that has been appropriately consulted on, agreed and resourced.
Specialists from outside of UK policing are able to give an alternative perspective which need to be contextualised.
The NBPA to be viewed and utilised as a full partner in improving equality issues within the police service—The Police service strength data 2011 (Dhani and Kaiza) and NPIA Equality in employment reports highlight the lack of progress on senior BME officers.
The NBPA and local BPAs will continue working with community groups developing programmes aimed at young people.
We recommend the establishment of a national Trust and Confidence forum, to be liked with the NBPA trust and confidence task force, in partnership with community groups, internal and external stakeholders.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has acknowledge the errors in relation to verbal disclosures surrounding the Duggan briefings—there is currently a serious risk of public confidence in the IPCC deteriorating if clear communication protocols are not adhered to.
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