36. Memorandum submitted by
the Metropolitan Black Police Association
1.1 This paper is submitted by the Metropolitan
Black Police Association (MBPA) and examines the relationship
between young black people and the criminal justice system. It
focuses on public perceptions of criminality among young black
people and the reasons for their overrepresentation in the system.
The Home Affairs Committee has announced that it will hold an
inquiry into the relationship between young black people and the
criminal justice system, it is hoped that the Association's contribution
will influence the thinking of the inquiry and any outcomes. If
required the Association would be willing to give an oral submission.
The issues surrounding whether patterns of criminal behaviour
amongst young black people differ in any significant way from
patterns of crime amongst other young people and whether any specific
policies are required is also explored.
2.1 The Metropolitan Black Police Association
was launched in 1994 and is a staff association and a registered
charity (Charity No: 1068108). The MBPA is the largest and most
proactive BPA in the UK. The MBPA is a affiliate of the National
Black Police Association UK.
2.2 Metropolitan Black Police Association
2.2.1 The Metropolitan Black Police Association
seeks to improve the working environment of black personnel within
the Metropolitan Police Service and to improve police service
delivery to black communities. Ultimately the Association wishes
to eradicate racism from the police service and the broader criminal
This aim will be achieved by:
Providing a support network for black
Working towards improved relations
between the police and the black community.
Capacity building within the black
Assisting recruitment and reducing
Proactively assist in the development
and enhancement of MPS policy and strategy.
Providing a social network.
Working more closely with other staff
associations and unions.
Working more closely with other criminal
justice agencies both on a national and internal basis.
2.2.2 Definition of Black:
Within the Association's constitution the term
black does not relate to skin colour but is used to describe all
people of African, African Caribbean or Asian origin. However
for the purposes of this paper only, black shall refer to peoples
of African and African Caribbean origins.
2.2.3 The Metropolitan Black Police Association
has been working with young people from the black community for
over a decade precisely because of the overrepresentation issues
within the criminal justice system. The Association believe that
factors including, social exclusion, institutional racism, stereotyping,
deprivation, under achievement and exclusion from school are all
influencing factors when it comes to understanding the issues
of overrepresentation. It is not simply that black youngsters
have a higher propensity toward crime than any other ethnic group,
it is that they find themselves suffering from multiple disadvantages
and that the very organisation that are there to serve and protect
them are still struggling to tackle the issues of institutional
2.2.4 The Metropolitan Black Police Association
believes that the way in which black personnel are treated in
the police service is also an indicator for service related issues
to the black community.
Other internal police indicators include:
Underrepresentation of the black
community within the police service.
Underrepresentation of black personnel
at senior levels of the police service.
The overrepresentation of black police
personnel within the disciplinary system reflects the overrepresentation
of black youngsters in criminal justice system.
Disproportionate stop and search
of young black men (less than 12% lead to an arrest).
Underrepresentation of black personnel
in specialist departments and roles.
Lack of trust and confidence between
the police and black community.
Ineffective community engagement
Lack of cultural understanding of
3.1 Following the Second World War the UK suffered
a labour shortage and Britain looked to the Commonwealth and the
Caribbean to help. Tilbury Docks on 21 June 1948 saw the first
arrival of Caribbean men and women on board SS Empire Windrush.
This marked the start of a Caribbean contribution to address the
labour shortage and in turn help to rebuild the British economy.
The late 1950's saw significant migration to the UK with many
settling in London, Birmingham and other metropolitan cities across
England and Wales. However, on arrival many encountered racism.
Many were turned away from churches, not give access to accommodation
with many accounts of landlords saying no blacks, Irish or dogs.
This racism led to physical confrontation on city streets and
for many in the black community the police were seen to collude
with racist gangs. This marked the start of declining mistrust
between the police and black community. Throughout the seventies
and eighties there were many accounts of police brutality and
racism toward members of the black community. The infamous SUS
laws were introduced in the 1960's, and police use of these powers
contributed to the inner city riots of the early 1980's. The SUS
law was the informal name for a stop-and-search laws that permitted
a police officer to act on suspicion, or "sus', alone. These
experiences have led to cross-generational mistrust of the police.
3.2 Section 95 data of the Criminal Justice
3.2.1 Section 95 data has consistently shown
disproportionality at all stages of the criminal justice system.
3.2.2 Black youngsters are less likely to be
given bail than their white or Asian counter parts and are less
likely to receive caution.
3.2.3 Black youth are more likely to get custodial
sentences than their white counterparts of the same offences.
3.2.4 Black males make up 16% of prison population
and black women make up 25%.
3.2.5 From researched commissioned by the MBPA,
many in the black community feel let down by the criminal justice
system at every stage of the process.
4. SOCIAL EXCLUSION
4.1 Social exclusion is a key factor running
throughout the backdrop of overrepresentation. Social exclusion
has complex consequences, creating far reaching and long lasting
challenges for individual families, communities and the economy.
It can pass from generation to generation, children's life chances
are strongly affected by their parents' circumstances, such as
their income and the place they live.
4.1.1 Social exclusion includes poverty and
low income, and encompasses some of the wider causes and consequences
of deprivation. The Government has defined social exclusion as:
"a shorthand term for what can happen when
people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such
as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, unfair discrimination,
poor housing, high crime, bad health and family breakdown".
5.1 The media today exhibits a culture that
demonises young people, with headlines often describing "hoodie"
wearing thugs roaming our streets and shopping centres'. This
culture helps to spread fear in communities, and that somehow
the word "young" is synonymous with thug. Add the ingredient
of race and you have a recipe for stereotyping and discrimination
on racial ground. Black youngsters are seen more often as perpetrators
and very rarely the victims of crime. In fact young people are
a one of the most vulnerable group in society. The victims of
gun crime in the black community are in the main under 25 years
6.1 Just 27.3% of Black Caribbean boys gained
5 good (A-C grades) GCSEs in 2004, compared to 52% of all pupils,
and 47% of all boys. Evidence suggests that a Level 2 qualification
(five GCSEs or NVQ Level 2) is the minimum for entry into skilled
employment in today's labour market.
6.1.1 African Black Caribbean boys are overrepresented
among permanently excluded and fixed-term excluded pupils.
African Caribbean pupils are four to six times
more likely to be excluded than white pupils although no more
likely to truant than other pupils.
6.1.2 Research from the Youth Justice Board
suggests that young people who are excluded from school are more
likely to offend.
6.1.3 Figures from Connexions suggest that 11%
of black children between 11 to 19 years old were not in education,
employment or training (NEET). This is the highest percentage
amongst any ethnic group apart from "mixed" heritage
groups running at 12%.
6.2 Peer Pressure
6.2.1 It is recognised that peer pressure has
a significant influence on the offending of young people. For
some young people in the black community there is a perception
that they die before the age of twenty five, which in turn creates
a culture of get rich quick without hard work or education. This
in turn can lead to violent incidents witnessed in many inner
7. VOYAGE: (VOICE
7.1 The Metropolitan Black Police Association's
(MBPA) VOYAGE Programme provides a journey of empowerment, knowledge
and capacity building. It was designed specifically to help Black
and Minority Ethnic (BME) young people in our major cities empower
themselves and their peers, to contribute to healthy, safer and
vibrant communities. VOYAGE endeavours to create new partnerships
with young people and the police service, helping them to take
responsibility for their own actions. It also encourages the young
people to seek and provide solutions to local youth crime and
anti-social behaviour issues. The programme provides a number
interventions and opportunities to address issues of youth crime
on a local basis.
7.1.1 VOYAGE provides direct contact with communities
who have had a history of disengagement and mistrust of the police,
which in turn has presented barriers to:
the nurturing of community intelligence;
reducing the fear of crime;
understanding priorities within black
and minority ethnic communities;
trust and confidence between community
engagement and participation of communities;
7.1.2 The MBPA VOYAGE team has delivered across
all six Trident boroughs (Southwark, Lambeth, Newham, Haringey,
Hackney and Brent), bringing together young people from some of
the most challenging neighbourhoods in London. These young people
have since engaged and supported the MPS in a number of new and
7.2 The following is a list of VOYAGE components:
Know Your Rights Seminar.
School and College workshops.
Young Black Positive AdvocatesYouth
7.3 Leadership Programme
There are two delivery formats for this programme:
7.3.1 (a) Residential: This is a seven-day
intensive programme providing an atmosphere within which young
leaders are developed and nurtured. The curriculum has a strong
focus on leadership and includes modules on crime, power, governance
7.3.2 (b) Modular: This is a three-month
programme delivered within local communities. The curriculum mirrors
that of the Residential, however, the subject matter is explored
in far greater detail and there is also a far greater emphasis
on local community issues.
7.4 Know Your Rights Seminar
7.4.1 These are a series of one-day seminars
providing young people an outline of their rights and responsibilities
when stopped by the police. The course covers legislation and
includes a debate with police recruits and the issues of community
7.5 Peace Pledge
7.5.1 The Peace Pledge is a promise to live
a life of non-violence and a commitment not to abuse alcohol or
drugs. The Pledge encourages young people to support their local
community, schools and families. The Pledge has eight lesson plans
aimed at the Citizenship curriculum within secondary schools.
7.6 School and College workshops
7.6.1 These are workshops run by the MBPA in
local schools on issues of community safety, violent crime, bullying,
community empowerment and peace.
7.7 Pizza Evenings
7.7.1 These are events organised by the MBPA
where members of the Young Black Positive Advocates (youth forum
of the MBPA) are invited to review and comment on police policy
and strategy relating to young people. The process provides the
YBPA an opportunity to further develop their understanding of
the police and contribute to its modernisation. Through this process
officers develop a better understanding of young people and in
turn informs the development of police policy and strategy.
7.7.2 The YBPA have recently written a response
to the Every Child Matters green paper and are currently
in the process of reviewing the three year Children and Young
Peoples plan in Haringey, Hackney, Brent, Newham, Southwark and
7.8 Young Black Positive Advocates (YBPA)
7.8.1 The YBPA is the youth forum of the Metropolitan
Black Police Association, there are over two hundred black young
people from seven inner city London boroughs in London. The group
was created by graduates of the Leadership programme who in their
words wanted to "educate the mis-educated" in their
schools and youth clubs. The group have already run several youth
conferences on various community and youth issues and have hosted
two conferences at the House of Commons Portcullis House. They
have produced a drugs education magazine called "Drug Rap".
The group is regularly asked to comment on issues facing young
people in the criminal justice system and education. Young people
in the group are aged between 14 to 20 years.
7.9 Views of the Young Black Positive Advocates:
Power of stereotypesnegative
imagery through video games, film, newspapers and music videos:
Both young people and the general
public believe what they seeeven if not real. Young people
then adopt the stereotype, as their destiny and it becomes a self-fulfilling
Stereotypes on both sidesduring
Know Your Rights workshops young people have suggested that they
need to remove their stereotypes of police and the criminal justices
system in order to create new histories.
Respected not Suspectedspeaking
to the young people and ask them what they think about the perceptions
as well as working with young people to identify how the issue
of overrepresentation in the criminal justice can be overcome
develops trust and understanding between the two groups.
Lack of cultural competencea
distinct lack of understanding the discipline codes and behavioural
codes of black young people can lead to a misjudgement of their
behaviour and/or the wrong methodology being used to correct the
young person. This can lead to an escalation where based on this
lack of understanding situations can be dealt with out of context
and extra pressure bought to bear in an attempt to "control"
what is perceived as an out of control situation when it is not.
Scars of difficult histories now
being softened by the new histories being created through programmes
such as Know Your Rights. Transformation of negative perceptions
through open and honest dialogue.
Fearis usually developed from
a lack of understanding. Rather than making a swift judgement
take the time to talk to them and find out what their needs are
ie leadership programme.
7.9.1 No celebration of young people who do
well (and there are lots of them)so focus constantly on
the young people who are challenging. Therefore false expectations
set at all level of society from school, to personal, to family,
8.1 The Metropolitan Black Police Association
does not believe that there is an inherent or innate difference
in offending between young people of different ethnic groups.
However, the Association recognises the influence of deprivation,
attitudes and expectations of those within the criminal justice
system, social exclusion, education, institutional racism and
the influences of the media. The black community has to take some
responsibility for criminality of their young people, however,
this does not take away from the social and economic influences
on offender behaviour within urban inner city neighbourhoods.
This in turn places a responsibility on those agencies given the
task to service local communities. This includes those within
the criminal justice system.
Government support for the implement
the MBPA VOYAGE programme across the UK.
Consideration to be given to a Judicial
Review of Stop and Search practice.
Affirmative action (using the Patten
Model for the recruitment of Catholics in the PSNI) to be adopted
in the recruitment of black personnel into the police service
the police service. It is recognised that this will require legislative
Affirmative action to be adopted
in the promotion and postings of black personnel within the police
Greater educational support to be
given to young people excluded from school.
In schools where there is a disproportionate
exclusion rate of black children the power should be suspended
while an independent review be undertaken of each case. During
this period disciplinary matters should be managed by the local
education and youth services.