• Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Anti-racism police team accused of racism: Report

The Police Race Action Plan was launched to help police build better relationships with black communities

Photo: iStock

By: Pramod Thomas

Allegations of racism have emerged within an initiative aimed at combating racism in policing in England and Wales, with some ethnic minority staff involved raising concerns, according to a report.

Former members of staff at the Police Race Action Plan told the BBC that their perspectives were ignored.

The Action Plan was launched in the UK to help police build better relationships with black communities after African-American George Floyd was murdered in the US in 2020.

One black former staff member told the broadcaster that they believed people like them were seen as ‘troublemakers or difficult’ for providing their perspectives.

“It was openly questioned if black people were even needed to work on the plan. I increasingly felt my voice and – at times – my lived and professional experience were being ignored,” former staff members told the BBC.

According to a staff member, they were treated differently to their white colleagues as they were not being offered more support when the workload increased.

Developed by the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the race action plan claims to ‘make policing anti-racist’ and ‘not over-police’ black people by tackling racial disparities in stop and search, arrests and homicides.

The BBC has also obtained documents revealing more complaints from ethnic minorities who participated in the programme. They expressed doubts about the Action Plan’s credibility and true motivations.

According to some, their negative experiences were dismissed in an effort to maintain a positive image. A former black team member described feeling completely ‘disillusioned’ by the entire process.

They expressed confusion over the fact that such behaviors, including racism, occurred within a programme that was initially intended to ‘enhance the experience for black people working in or interacting with the police’.

This led them to question the seriousness of the police in implementing substantial and meaningful change, the report added.

Andy George, president of the National Black Police Association (NBPA), said members his organisation had supported had outlined areas where they had been marginalised and sidelined within the plan.

“At times, they’ve almost been gas-lit as well around some of the issues. Black people are sometimes made to feel that they are the problem, and that they are loud and challenging,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

In May, the man in charge of the strategy retired. Deputy chief constable Tyron Joyce, one of the most senior black officers in UK policing, had faced an unrelated allegation of bullying at the unit.

The NPCC’s chairman and Police Race Action Plan lead,
“We will be issuing a refreshed action plan that I am confident will deliver the change in our workforce, and the communities we serve, need and deserve. We must be judged on action and not words,” chief constable Gavin Stephens, NPCC’s chairman and Police Race Action Plan lead, told the BBC.

“I am not aware of any official complaints or allegations relating to racism. However, I am deeply saddened to hear of the experiences expressed in this report. It is a stark reminder of why we must drive change across policing and we are more galvanised than ever to achieve this.”

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