4. Memorandum submitted by
the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and
Northern Ireland (ACPO)
Figures show that young black people proportionately
have more contact with the criminal justice system than white
people. The police have been accused of dealing with certain minority
ethnic groups disproportionately, particularly from the perspective
of Stop and Search. This paper considers a number of issues relating
to disproportionality and section 95 data. The paper importantly
also considers the social and economic environment impacting on
young black people and its links to offending behaviour and the
contrasting crime patterns of young black people versus young
1.1 It is of significant importance to consider
firstly some of the reasons why young black people are disadvantaged
before entering the criminal justice system. One could argue that
by the time they come to the notice of the police they have already
suffered as individuals as a result of wide ranging factors which
research suggests leads to offending behaviour.
1.2 Statistics suggest that young black
people are more likely to be raised by single parent families,
live in poorer housing conditions, lack support from statutory
educational and health services with higher levels of exclusion
1.3 Residential segregation by race exists
within the UK and is believed to be one of the most significant
factors in contributing to the overall ill-being of ethnic minorities
in Britain. The concentration of black people in the most deprived
disadvantaged areas across the UK creates a sense of inferiority
which is also reflected within the labour market where young black
people are more likely to work in lower status jobs and semi and
1.4 Under-achievement of black boys in education
is a serious concern, replicating the pattern in the prisons where
the majority of inmates suffer from poor reading ability.
1.5 Whilst the Home Affairs Committee is
seeking to focus on black afro Caribbean young people the range
of different backgrounds and cultures included in the term "black"
is wide. The experiences, behaviours and offences committed for
instance by Somalians, Rwandans, Iraqis differs from those of
afro Caribbeans although under the current methods of collecting
this data under the 16+1 system, these sub-groups will not be
identified. The same applies to the term "White Europeans".
1.6 The UK as a consequence of racial inequalities
during the past three decades experienced a number of black uprisings
including the Brixton, Toxteth, Hansworth and more recently the
Oldham and Bradford riots which have significantly impacted on
the way we police. As a result, huge investment has been made
in understanding black communities and their associated cultures.
The police increasingly act as honest brokers within communities.
The Stephen Lawrence murder and subsequent inquiry has additionally
impacted not only on the methods used in investigation but on
the methods used by the police in dealing with black victims of
1.7 The debate on race, equality and investigation
is shifting, principally provoked by the current terrorist situation
but also by discussion on how far mainstream society should cater
for the needs of minorities. Media coverage and the way minorities
are portrayed in popular culture can increase hostility and a
reluctance for allowances to be made for disadvantage.
2. POLICE INITIATIVES
2.1 A vast range of initiatives have been
undertaken by police forces to assist officers and staff to understand
the cultural differences of black people. The return to community
and neighbourhood policing and the introduction of a range of
initiatives to defuse community tensions are raising the confidence
of black communities in our ability to police, and in encouraging
victims of crime to report to the police. The establishment of
Independent Advisory Groups to challenge policies and working
practices of the police has also been a successful initiative
ensuring that the police are accountable for their actions and
"alive" to community perceptions and needs. The introduction
of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the use of
custody lay visitors is also significant.
2.2 The police have undertaken a significant
amount of work in enabling members of the public to report hate
crime. "True Vision" which has been adopted by 37 police
forces enables individuals to pass on information or intelligence
to the police through third parties and encourages individuals
to report hate crimes. The self-reporting packs are available
at police stations and designated reporting sites within the community.
The ACPO Hate Crime Manual is regularly revised to ensure that
police officers receive the best possible guidance in dealing
with and the recording of hate crime incidents. The number of
prosecutions for racially aggravated offences has significantly
2.3 A distinction has to be made between
black people as victims and black people as offenders or suspected
offenders. While undoubtedly considerable progress has been made
in raising the confidence of black victims, little progress has
been made in reducing the disproportionate number of black people
arrested and convicted. As Trevor Phillips recently said, "A
black boy is still more likely to end up in a prison cell than
a university lecture theatre."
3. STOP AND
3.1 There is a concern within the police
that the huge focus on stop and search has masked the disproportionality
in other parts of the criminal justice process including arrest
rates, cautions, custody decisions and DNA retention, not to mention
rates of imprisonment. Before exploring the issues around disproportionality
there are a number of key assumptions to consider:
Disproportionality as it is currently
reported looks at outcomes of an action or activity for different
population groups and compares it against the resident population.
Whatever the reasons the perceptions
and experience of Stop and Search are adversely affecting relationships
with certain communities. The focus must be equally on the quality
of the interaction as on justifying reasons for stop and search.
The term disproportionality has become
shorthand for discrimination; effectively it has become a proxy
indicator for discrimination.
Resident population based on census
data is an unreliable control group against which to compare those
who group which might be involved in street encounters with police.
Disproportionality in Stop and Search
is not only confined to ethnicity it also occurs in relation to
age, gender and social class.
3.2 There is a wide body of academic research
that looks at the issues behind disproportionate outcomes particularly
in Stop and Search, including Bowling, Waddington, Fitzgerald,
Quinton and Miller. The Home Office through the Police Research
series has also produced research documents including:
Stops and Searches on Crime and Community.
The view of the public on Stops and
Police Stops, decision making and
Profiling populations available for
Stops and Searches.
Managing the use and impact of searches.
3.3 One of the observations from the research
is helpful to this consideration of disproportionality. It states
that "while comparisons between the number of recorded stops
and searches and the numbers in the general population remain
important in describing the overall experience of different ethnic
groups, they do not provide a good basis for assessing ethnic
biases in officers' street level decisions to carry out stops
3.4 Searches generally do not occur evenly
across any force area but tend to be targeted on particular sub-areas
and highly localised hot spots, linked to our intelligence and
briefing. The individuals and groups in these areas will be varied
in terms of their age structure and socio-economic characteristics.
It is becoming recognised that the reasons for these variations
in searches are multiple and include economic and social factors
as well as policing practice and individual officer behaviour.
3.5 There is a belief amongst some in the
debate around disproportionality and discrimination that more
research is needed to explain this issue. However, past experience
suggests that such a piece of research is unlikely to answer the
3.6 The most recent data published for what
is known as Section 95 data relates to 2004-05 and was published
in 2006. The data highlights disproportionate outcomes from victimisation
through to sentencing and prison population. The overall summary
of Section 95 data states:
The data reported show that progress continues
to be made in relation to the proportion of staff from Black and
Miniority Ethnic (BME) groups working in the criminal justice
system (CJS). However, other areas remain largely unchanged with
BME groups continuing to be disproportionately represented in
When interpreting the data, it is important to
note that people from BME groups are often disadvantaged in social
and economic terms compared to the White population. This disadvantage
relates to factors such as housing, education and employment;
factors that are in part predictive of offending behaviour and
general involvement in the criminal justice process.
Data concerning ethnicity and crime needs to
be treated with extreme caution because the data may be inaccurate
or missing altogether (as many crimes may be unreported or the
ethnicity of the perpetrator unknown). However, evidence suggests
that the imbalance is not simply the result of people from BME
groups committing a disproportionate number of crimes. There is
not as yet, sufficiently robust data and evidence from which to
reach definite conclusions as to the cause, or causes, of the
disproportionate representation of BME groups observed in the
data described. What is clear from the data is that disproportionality
continues to be a key issue meriting urgent investigation.
3.7 ACPO are actively engaged in the review
of Section 95 data, however there are a number of key points to
16+1 is not a complete picture of
our communities. There is considerable pressure from policing
to change and expand 16+1. This is not a data set that is actually
owned by the police, 16+1 is part of the census and to move forward
requires a number of departments and agencies to move.
The accuracy of census data is questioned
by a number of observers; given the numbers in respect of some
communities this could have an impact on the published data.
The incomplete nature of the data.
In relation to Stop and Search it is appreciated amongst practitioners
that this data set is one of the most imprecise we deal with,
some of this is due to the way the data is collected, individual
interactions on the street often officer initiated, and the time
lag and accuracy issues in processing the data.
3.8 ACPO must try to sensitively address
the issue of disproportionality being used as shorthand for discrimination.
It is important to understand that even in proportionate use of
a power or outcomes, there can still be discrimination, and by
overly focusing on proportionality as a concept, we may be missing
3.9 To take these issues forward we need,
as a Service to answer the following questions:
Are officers in the right place(properly
briefed, operating with up to date intelligence, in the right
locations at the right time).
Are they doing things in the right
way(is the use of powers legal, is the conduct and behaviour
appropriate, activity checked and audited and training in place).
Do they have the support of the community
(does the community understand and support what is taking place).
3.10 If we can answer all the above questions
and the resulting outcome is still disproportionate, then disproportionality
is due to factors over which the police have little or no control
such as poverty, housing, school exclusions etc.
3.11 Arrests arising from stop and search
are only a small proportion of total arrests and therefore there
are other factors which direct officers to identify black people
as suspects. Most arrests come from calls from the public, information
from witnesses and the actions of door staff, CCTV operators,
store detectives, security guards and others involved in identifying
offending. It is reasonable to assume that decisions made by this
group may well be affected by a person's ethnic appearance or
4. ETHNIC MONITORING
4.1 Ethnic monitoring is still not complete
in key parts of the court process and the failure for instance
to monitor ASBOS for ethnicity and the lack of an impact assessment
in respect of ASBOs is an example of a lack of understanding of
how new laws may disproportionately affect different members of
5. CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
5.1 In contrast to white young people it
is evident that the crimes committed by young black people differ.
Gang culture is increasing within black young people, their reliance
on emotional peer support in the absence of parental or community
role models is a possible factor in creating the gang culture
environment. Involvement in drugs is seen as a means to elevating
themselves up the economic ladder securing "respect"
in the process. The prevalence of the use of guns and knives as
weapons also contrasts with white young people who are more likely
to use alcohol fuelled bodily force to assault their victims.
5.2 That said it is evident that many of
the issues affecting young black men in the UK are also prevalent
in white young working class men who are increasingly subject
to segregation, poor educational attainment, low self-esteem and
5.3 Community based policing styles in the
UK have done much to improve the relationship between young black
youth and the police. Greater accountability and openness, the
adoption of race equality schemes and the huge part played by
the Black Police Association have ensured the mistakes of the
past have not been repeated, but levels of offending still appear
5.4 There are a range of innovative approaches
being used in areas such as Hackney and South Manchester to deal
with the problems of black gang violence. Some of these use lessons
from the USA, many involve local faith groups and crucially the
young people themselves. These are long-term initiatives which
need long-term investment. Short-term crude performance targets
can often act as a barrier to these type of approaches. There
is an inevitable accusation that resources are being concentrated
in "problem" areas but this has to be defended.
6.1 ACPO supports the review of S95 data
but believes a more dynamic process is required to hold all criminal
justice agencies to account for performance. In respect of stop
and search the current focus on disproportionality related to
residential population needs to be re-examined and greater emphasis
given to the quality of the interaction.
6.2 Greater support for community based
initiatives involving faith groups and black role models to combat
Increased educational and welfare
support for young black people to the age of 21.
Incentives for young people to find
and remain in employment.
Greater emphasis on prevention and
rehabilitation initiatives as opposed to enforcement leading to
increased criminalisation of young black people (highlighted by
Professor Rob Morgan).
Increased discretion for police officers
to deal with individuals without necessarily sending them down
the criminal justice route.
6.3 Continued use of targeted enforcement
activity against gang violence and gun crime.
Chief Constable, Cheshire Constabulary
ACPO lead on Race and Diversity
CONTRIBUTIONS FROM: DCC
Craig MackeyACPO lead on stop and search.
David M EngstromThe Economic Detriments
of ethnic segregation in post-war Britain.
DfEE Research brief No 186.
CJS Sec 95 data 2004-05.
Press room publication on "helping young
black people change their lives after school exclusion".
CJS Race unitThe experiences of young
black men as Victims of Crime.