Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Submission by Dr Robin Oakley to the Stephen Lawrence Murder Inquiry: Part Two




2.The Role of Training

3.Training Need

4.Principles of Training Provision

5.Implementation of Training


7.Proposals for Action


I."A Review of Progress in Police Community and Race Relations Training" by Robin Oakley

II."Police Training for Local Service Delivery in Multi-Ethnic Communities: the Hammersmith Model", by Shelley Collins & Robin Oakley, in Police Journal, Vol LXXI, No 4, Oct-Dec 1998 (pp 297-306)

III."Training for the Judiciary", by Trevor Hall & Robin Oakley, in Tackling Racist and Xenophobic Violence in Europe: Case Studies, Council of Europe 1997 (pp 37-47)


  1.1  The aim of this submission is to assist Part Two of the Stephen Lawrence Murder Inquiry to identify the way forward for police training on community and race relations in general, and on racially-motivated incidents in particular. The submission is primarily concerned with the strategic planning and implementation of training, rather than with details of training design and delivery. It addresses police training both at national level and in the Metropolitan Police.

  1.2  The submission constitutes both a development, and a narrowing of focus, of an earlier paper prepared by the author on "Racial Attacks and Training", which was submitted to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in 1993 (Home Affairs Committee, Session 1993-94,Third Report, Racial Attacks and Harassment, Vol.II, Appendix 24). In that paper, it was recognised that the need for training on dealing with racial attacks is not peculiar to the police service, but is a requirement in numerous other public service agencies, particularly in housing authorities and in other criminal justic agencies such as the prosecution service and the courts. Training for the police, however, is of particular importance due to the special responsibility of the police for the detection and investigation of racially-motivated crime, and their responsibility for public protection against such crimes.

  1.3  Part One of the Stephen Lawrence Murder Inquiry has provided a unique opportunity for close and independent scrutiny of the police response in one particular incident, the unprovoked racially-motivated murder of a young black teenager in south London—a teenager whose killers have yet to be brought to justice. The Inquiry has revealed serious gaps between policing policy and practice, particularly with respect to the racial dimension. These have included lack of awareness of the possibility of racial motivation, poor knowledge of policy and procedures relating to racially-motivated incidents, indications of stereotyping of young black people, inability to establish confidence and trust within the black community, and lack of understanding of racial tensions in the local area. There are also clear indications from the Inquiry that lack of effective training, and poor management of training, are a major cause of such shortcomings.

  1.4  Though Part One of the Inquiry has focused only on this single incident, there is little reason to doubt that the shortcomings revealed are shortcomings to which the police service nationally is vulnerable. Part Two of the Inquiry therefore provides the opportunity for a review and appraisal of current training provision, and for identification of the way forward for police training on community and race relations generally and on racially-motivated incidents in particular.


  2.1  The role of training, from an organisational standpoint, is to help to ensure that policy is translated into practice. As was stated in the author's paper prepared for the Home Affairs Committee, "training is a key means whereby policy and its practical implications are communicated to staff, and the necessary skills and motivation developed for the policy to be implemented." However, training alone cannot be sufficient to ensure that policy is translated into practice. Leadership, written guidance, management and supervision, performance appraisal, and sanctions (both positive and negative) are among the key elements which must be welded together into a strategic approach to policy implementation, an approach within which training is but one component, though a crucial one.

  2.2  Since the early 1980s, both the Home Office and ACPO have made clear their policy commitment to address the problem of the police response to racial attacks. Home Office initiatives have included commissioning and conducting research, providing written policy guidance (in the form of Home Office Circulars), promoting multi-agency cooperation (through the work of the Racial Attacks Group), sponsoring production of a training video on racial incidents (by Loughborough University), and directly funding specialist support for community and race relations training generally. The Association of Chief Police Officers in 1985 also produced written guidance on policy and practice for individual police forces, and set out a common procedure for the recording of racial incidents, based on the so-called "ACPO definition". This document has recently been updated by ACPO in the form of a more comprehensive Good Practice Guide for Police Response to Racial Incidents (1997). Individual police forces too have developed specific policies and procedures to varying degrees. During the 1980s the Metropolitan Police were pioneers in this regard, and their recently rewritten Racial Incident Guidance Manual (1997) is both comprehensive and detailed.

  2.3  All of this activity appears to demonstrate an overt commitment to tackle the problem. But how effectively is this commitment translated into practice—into the behaviour of officers dealing with actual incidents? For example, much of the written guidance seems highly commendable, but is it known, understood, appreciated and then acted on by police officers "on the street"? Significantly, although training is usually mentioned in these documents, the precise training need is rarely specified in any detail (the recent Metropolitan Police Guidance Manual is one exception), and the making of such provision is usually seen as discretionary. What exactly, therefore, is the training need? And should provision of such training be discretionary, or should it be a requirement for all police staff?


  3.1  So far as the training need of police officers to deal effectively with racially-motivated incidents is concerned, basic competence in generic policing skills is of course a pre-requisite. The additional requirement is training to address the racial dimension, and in particular the element of racial motivation. In the author's submission to the Home Affairs Committee, the training need of staff in any service organisation for dealing specifically with racially-motivated incidents was identified as being for:

    (a)  awareness of the issue, and knowledge of organisational policy and procedures;

    (b)  understanding of the nature and forms of such incidents, the factors giving rise to them, and their effects upon victims and their communities; and

    (c)  practical skills and confidence to deal with such incidents effectively, in accordance with their particular roles and responsibilities.

  3.2  Training focussing specifically on racially-motivated incidents, however, should not be provided in isolation, but should be delivered in the broader context of training on awareness and understanding of racial issues generally. For police officers, dealing effectively with such incidents requires a more general awareness of racism and the significance of the police role in combatting it. It requires an understanding not only of manifestations of racism in the community, but also their potential manifestations within the police service itself. The latter include the more subtle and unconscious forms of stereotyping and bias which may be institutionalised within the organisational culture, and which may affect behaviour and the exercise of discretion in an unintended manner (see the author's note on "Institutional Racism and Police Service Delivery" submitted to Part One of the Inquiry). It also requires an appreciation of the damaging impact of discriminatory behaviour, whether actual or perceived, on levels of trust and confidence in relations between minority ethnic communities and the police, and on how this in turn may undermine the ability of the police service to tackle racially-motivated incidents effectively.


  4.1  The importance of police training on this specific subject was first officially recognised at national level in the 1981 Home Office report on Racial Attacks. The importance of training in "community and race relations" generally was also highlighted in the same year in Lord Scarman's report on The Brixton Disorders. Following the recommendations contained in these two documents, a further report entitled Community and Race Relations Training for the Police was produced in 1983 by a special Working Party set up by Police Training Council. The 1983 PTC Report set out a comprehensive framework for the provision of such training, covering the basic training need, the general principles on which training should be based, and the appropriate content of training for the various ranks and roles.

  4.2  Despite the changes which have taken place in the police service since that time, the basic vision set out by this report remains as valid in 1998 as it did fifteen years earlier. In the present context, therefore, it is particularly appropriate to set out once again the principles on which the Working Party suggested community and race relations training for the police should be based, as these constitute a "benchmark" against which subsequent progress can be assessed. These principles may be summarised as follows:

    (a)  Training should have clear aims and objectives, which are realistic, and are related to policing policy and to officers' roles and responsibilities;

    (b)  All officers should receive training regularly, and it should be developmental throughout their careers;

    (c)  Content should cover awareness, skills and information, and should be relevant to officers' roles and the contexts in which they work;

    (d)  Methods should be varied, with skilled and experienced trainers to deliver them;

    (e)  Trainers should consist mainly of selected police officers, but with substantial lay involvement also, and both groups should receive specialist training for this task;

    (f)  Evaluation of the effectiveness of the training should be conducted regularly and systematically;

    (g)  Training should be well integrated with other subjects dealt with in the curriculum, and not dealt with in isolation from generic policing tasks.

  4.3  The above principles apply equally to the specific task of training on racially-motivated incidents. Even if they work in rural areas, all police staff have the potential to be involved in dealing with racially-motivated incidents, either directly or in an indirect manner, and all should therefore receive training on this subject. In addition to the content already indicated above, the training should focus on specific police powers and responsibilities, the ACPO definition of a racial incident and its rationale, the full range of types of incident covered, and reasons for under-reporting of incidents to the police. The subject should be included within all recruit and core in-service training. Existing staff who may not have had access to such training in the past, should be able to benefit from a programme of "catch-up" training. This should be attended by all staff, and should provide for reflection on past experience in dealing with such issues, as well as for an "update" on current policy and procedures. In addition, staff with specialist responsibilities with regard to racially-motivated incidents will require specialist training on this subject.


  5.1  Over the period since the publication of the Police Training Council Report in 1983, the police service has made substantial efforts to address community and race relations issues in training, at both national and local levels. These efforts compare favourably with many other public service agencies, and especially those elsewhere in the criminal justice system. Yet there continue to appear to be significant and at times very serious shortcomings in the quality of service given by police to minority ethnic communities, and there remain lower levels of trust and confidence in the police in such communities, especially so in some parts of London. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, in their Thematic Inspection Report on Community and Race Relations 1996-97, acknowledged such problems, and concluded amongst their other recommendations that "training in community and race relations needs greater emphasis", and that "this is especially necessary for post-probationer officers" (para 3.68). However, the Inspection was not designed to focus specifically on training, nor on racially-motivated crime, and so did not provide the kind of detailed review and proposals for the way forward that are now needed.

  5.2  The present submission is not the place to present a detailed historical review of developments in police training on these subjects. Nonetheless, any proposals for the way forward in police training at the present time must be based on an appraisal of the current situation. An overview of developments has therefore been provided as ANNEX 1* to this submission. This overview examines developments in police training both at national level and in the Metropolitan Police.

  5.3  In the light of this overview, what assessment can be made of overall progress at the national level? This question is best dealt with by referring back to the "principles" for effective training which were identified in the 1983 PTC Report:

    (a)  First of all the point should be made that there is actually very little evidence whether or not training efforts hitherto have in themselves been successful. Despite the recommendation of the 1983 PTC Report, virtually no systematic evaluation has been undertaken of community and race relations training for the police.

    (b)  Secondly, until the publication of the Minimum Effective Training Levels (METLs) in Equal Opportunities and Community and Race Relations in 1997, there were no nationally-agreed competency-based standards on which the aims and objectives of police training throughout the country could be based. Hence there was no clarity or consistency of purpose linked to practical, measurable outcomes.

    (c)  Thirdly, although the Home Office-funded Specialist Support Unit for Police Community and Race Relations Training has been successful since 1989 in creating a large cadre of police trainers skilled in delivering training on this subject, these officers have not been deployed systematically or effectively within the police service to achieve a strategic goal.

    (d)  Fourthly, there has not until recently been a viable model (suitable for implementation nationally) for providing practical, locally-based "catch-up" training to all existing staff on key competences specified in the METLs. The "Hammersmith model" as developed within the Metropolitan Police (see Annex II[29]) now provides such an opportunity.

    (e)  Fifthly, the integration of race and community issues into core training curricula at national level has proceeded extremely slowly, and is neither completed nor proven to be effective at the present time. At Training Support Harrogate (and regional training centres), the integration process in training up to Inspector rank has been ongoing for a number of years. At the Police Staff College at Bramshill, the absence of agreed METLs for more senior officers has meant that a systematic and strategic integration process has not been possible.

    (f)  Sixthly, in consequence of the shortfalls identified above, the ideal that all officers receive regular and developmental community and race relations training remains far from being realised, whether through dedicated programmes or integrated components in core training.

    (g)  Finally, lay involvement from the minority ethnic communities still remains very uneven, and in many contexts is minimal or non-existent. There has been persistent reluctance on the police side to accept the involvement of community groups and Racial Equality Councils, and since the late 1980s, there has been no national training programme to equip members of minority communities to contribute to police training as envisaged in the 1983 PTC Report.

  5.4  Turning to training specifically on racially-motivated incidents, the same conclusions apply. Although competencies relating to dealing with such incidents are now included in the METLs, police officers already in post will mostly not have received training on this subject. In order for them to do so, there would need to be a nation-wide training programme for all existing officers which would specifically include this topic.

  5.5  Within the Metropolitan Police in particular, as is demonstrated in Annex[30], there has been a long history of efforts to address these issues in training, particularly at the Recruit Training School. Yet, despite the numerous initiatives, the public perception seems to be that, at "street level", little has changed. The underlying cause of the problem in the past appears to be the failure of senior management to systematically develop and deliver effective training specifically on community and race relations as part of a strategy for achieving organisational change. Neither in most core training, nor at divisional level, nor through provision of specialist training has there been a dedicated corporate response designed to implement the principles of the 1983 Working Party Report. Hence, at the time of Stephen Lawrence's murder in 1993, few of the officers attending the scene or involved in the investigation would have been likely to have had any significant training to provide them with skills and confidence to deal with the racial and multi-cultural aspects of their roles. This was clearly indicated by their testimonies given in Part One of the Inquiry.

  5.6  However, since 1997 the Metropolitan Police have begun taking corporate action to remedy this situation, in line with the commitment to "Policing Diversity" as set out in the Five-Year Strategy Document: The London Beat. So far as training is concerned, a strategy for the delivery of local-level workshops to reach all existing staff is now being implemented, a core feature of which is partnership with and involvement of black and minority ethnic groups. A parallel strategy for integration of community and race issues into all core training, in accordance with the METLs, is also being introduced. Providing training support for the implementation of written guidelines and procedures for dealing with racially-motivated incidents is planned to be an integral component in both.


  6.1  As has been made clear above, the police service still has a considerable way to go before it can be said to have fully implemented a system of training on community and race relations that accords with the principles set out in the 1983 Police Training Council Working Party Report. Despite the passage of time, these principles remain firmly valid. Some pieces of the jigsaw are already in place. Police trainers have been trained, training standards for operational staff have now been formulated, an effective model for local-level training has been developed, and other examples of good practice can be identified. However, there also remain serious gaps. One such gap is the failure to include systematic provision, at all levels and in all areas, to ensure that officers are equipped to deal effectively with racially-motivated incidents. A second is the lack of systematic involvement of lay contributors from the minority ethnic communities. A third is ensuring that training of proven effectiveness reaches out to all front-line officers, as well as to supervisors (prioritised in the HMIC Report), to specialists, and to those in the most senior ranks.

  6.2  How can it be that, 15 years after the PTC Report set out its vision, the basic principles which it laid down have still not been fully implemented within the police service? There appear to be two linked reasons. First, there has continued—at least until quite recently—to be a lack of appreciation at the highest levels within the police service that policing a multi-racial community requires special professional policing skills. There tends to be an institutional assumption that "apart from a few rotten apples", we already know how to treat people fairly. There is a failure to recognise that policing a diverse community poses special challenges and requires special competences which officers, drawn predominantly from the white British majority, do not necessarily bring to the job themselves.

  6.3  The second reason is that there has been a failure to see that this is not just an issue about individuals, but an issue about achieving change at the organisational level in response to the shift from a basically mono-cultural to a multi-racial society. There has been no strategic attempt to address the fact that the police service remains a white-dominated organisation which is ethnocentric in outlook, and whose established practices have built-in tendencies to be racially discriminatory, and are widely perceived to be so. In short, there has been a lack of vision of the radical nature of the institutional challenge which is in fact faced by police services not only in Britain but throughout Europe generally, as set out in the Rotterdam Charter: "Policing for a Multi-Ethnic Society". Such vision has been more evident in more distant countries such as Canada and Australia, as embodied for example in the work of the latter's National Police Ethnic Advisory Bureau (which includes ethnic minority representation, and covers training within its promotional remit).

  6.4  Part One of the Stephen Lawrence Murder Inquiry has highlighted this fundamental institutional failure within the British police service, revealing how it has undermined the ability of the police both to tackle racially-motivated crime effectively, and to win the confidence and trust of the black community. The challenge now for the police training system at the strategic level is to fill the gaps that have been identified, and to complete the implementation of community and race relations training systematically throughout the country.

  6.5  To achieve these strategic goals, urgent action is needed particularly from the Home Office and from Chief Officers of Police. The methods for achieving them are largely already known: the main task, as already indicated, is one of implementation. Much good training practice already exists, but it needs to be more clearly identified and disseminated. Such an exercise, however, should not be purely introspective within the police service. There is also a substantial body of training experience in other agencies that could be drawn on by the police service, eg in the voluntary sector, local authorities, and elsewhere within the criminal justice system.

  6.6  One particularly relevant example would be the national programme of training on "ethnic minority issues" for members of the judiciary, which included a core session specifically focussed on dealing with racially-motivated crime (see ANNEX III[31]). The success of the judges' training programme demonstrated not only the feasibility of mounting a national programme directly addressing race issues, but also highlighted some crucial features which are pre-conditions for success. These included extremely thorough planning, a well-tested design with ongoing quality control, an approach that respected participants' professionalism, practical content directly related to their roles, use of highly skilled facilitators, structured involvement from the minority communities, and active support for the programme at the highest political and professional levels.

  6.7  The lesson of Stephen Lawrence's murder should be that it is time to rise above the uneven and incomplete—although no doubt worthy—efforts that have characterised police training on race issues up to the present time. An effective national strategy is now required to ensure that all present and future officers have adequate training to deal with racially-motivated crime, and to provide a service to all sections of Britain's multi-ethnic society. If Britain's judges needed a dedicated training programme for this purpose, Britain's police service also need and deserve one as well. Basically, the tools already exist to do this job. But where is the will to get it done?


  (1)   The Home Office and ACPO should jointly declare a commitment to the full implementation of the Minimum Effective Training Levels (METLs) in Community and Race Relations within police training nationally, and should agree a timed strategic framework, appropriately resourced, for such implementation to be carried out. Full implementation across all ranks and roles is essential for ensuring officers have the confidence and skills for policing a diverse society. METLs should be drawn up as a matter of urgency for those ranks and roles not yet covered, including senior officers. Priority should be given to implenting the METLs relating to racially-motivated incidents, and to implementing these within training for the CID.

  (2)   A national training audit should be carried out immediately to identify the extent to which the METLs in community and race relations generally, and those relating to racially-motivated incidents in particular, are being addressed in police training curricula. The audit should identify both shortfalls and examples of good practice. The audit might take the form of a "thematic inspection" to be undertaken by HMIC, perhaps operating in partnership with the Commission for Racial Equality and the Black Police Association. The inspection team should include independent members drawn from the black and minority ethnic communities.

  (3)   As an urgent interim measure, to ensure that all officers within a short period of time (eg two years) have received training on the METLs most directly related to their roles, a national programme of training workshops should be delivered in all police forces to all officers at workplace level. Dealing effectively with racially-motivated incidents should be a core component of these workshops in every area of the country, including rural areas. Understanding the more subtle forms of institutional racism should be a core component of training for police managers. The design for the workshops could be based on those currently being developed for Divisional training in the Metropolitan Police. Possible models for the design of the programme as a whole include the national training programme on ethnic minority issues for the judiciary.

  (4)   The delivery of such training should be undertaken so far as possible by police trainers who have received specialist training at the Home Office Specialist Support Unit, working in partnership with independent community-based trainers. These trainers constitute a major, yet seriously under-used resource for the police service. Each police force would need to develop an appropriate plan for their mobilisation.

  (5)   The Government should make funding resources available to support this national police training programme, but should no longer restrict such resources to the maintenance of a single national Specialist Support Unit. Police training establishments should be able to select their own training consultants and community training partners, drawing where appropriate on local expertise. However, a funding condition should be that the training consultants/partners demonstrate competence to achieve clear training objectives based on the METLs, and they should be subject to monitoring at national-level to ensure quality assurance. Such monitoring could be provided within the framework of HMIC, along the lines already indicated.

  (6)   The Home Office, in partnership with the Commission for Racial Equality, should finance and develop a national training programme for community-based trainers to equip them to contribute to police training on racial issues. Courses based on that pioneered at the original Home Office Specialist Support Centre at Brunel University in the 1980s, and revised and updated as appropriate, should be introduced as soon as possible. Shorter briefing seminars should also be provided for more occasional contributors from the minority communities, to ensure they have an understanding of the context in which they are being invited to contribute knowledge and experience. An appropriate model would be the briefing seminars currently being provided jointly by Reading Council for Racial Equality and the Police Staff College at Bramshill within the framework of the European Union NAPAP Project ("NGOs and Police against Prejudice").

  (7)   The Home Office should take the initiative to sponsor an independent and systematic programme of evaluation research into the effectiveness of police community and race relations training. While it may be useful to undertake some retrospective work, what is most important is that a scientific evaluation design should be built into the planning of future training progammes. In the longer run the aim should be that all training establishments run their own evaluation programmes, with national oversight being maintained by HMIC.

  (8)   The Home Office, in association with ACPO, should urgently convene a special national seminar to present and share examples of good practice in police community and race relations training, and in particular in training on dealing with racially-motivated incidents. The national audit, recommended above, would be a vehicle for identifying suitable examples. Other agencies should also be invited to participate and to share their experience. The conclusions of the seminar, and the examples presented, should be widely disseminated.

  (9)   The specialist "Racial Incidents" course run at the Police Staff College should be reviewed in the light of the findings of the Inquiry, and its objectives and curriculum revised as necessary. This course needs to be clearly visible and authenticated throughout the country as the purveyor of "best practice" in the policing response to racially-motivated incidents. All police forces should make regular use of its services. Consideration should also be given to opening the course to other professionals working in the race equality field who are engaged in partnership work with the police service on tackling racially-motivated crime.

  (10)   London's Metropolitan Police, in accordance with the above recommendations, should commit themselves to the speedy implementation of their Divisional-based community and race relations training programme, and to the full integration of the METLs throughout all core training provision. Priority should be given to ensuring racially-motivated incidents are addressed in such training, and to provision of training to CID staff. Specialist training should also be provided for staff with specialist responsibilities for community relations and for racial incidents. There should be skilled involvement from the minority ethnic communities in both the planning and delivery of all such training, and at both central and local levels of training activity.

Dr Robin Oakley

Independent Training and Research Consultant

June 1998

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