The Macpherson Report: Twenty-two years on Contents

9Delivery and Accountability

I think leadership is critical. It is so important that the leadership actually believe that this is necessary and they manoeuvre the organisation behind that deep sense of conviction that it needs to change. […] The chief constable and the team at that level of leadership must accept and believe that [building links between the police and minority ethnic communities] are not issues around just having a discussion, but that they are systemic and structural issues that must be addressed. The community needs to have confidence in policing. Policing must reflect the communities that they are leading. Policing requires the consent—not permission, consent—of its own community. It must engage the community.

Source: Bishop Webley857

561.This report has identified a series of problems in policing that were first highlighted by the Macpherson report, but which are still not resolved today. This chapter considers the roles and responsibilities of different policing institutions and the Home Office in delivering change on race equality, as well as the scrutiny processes for holding them to account. It also looks at the reforms and actions that are needed now to resolve the problems identified in this report.

Delivery of the Macpherson recommendations

562.In the years following the publication of the Macpherson report, there was a welcome focus on the part of Government and all policing organisations to implement the report’s recommendations and drive forward institutional change. The recommendation for a Ministerial Priority to “increase trust and confidence in policing amongst minority ethnic communities” was accepted by the Government, an action plan for implementing all 70 recommendations of the report was published in 1999, and in the same year the Stephen Lawrence Steering Group (SLSG) was established to oversee progress and support the delivery of the Government’s action plan. The SLSG was chaired by the Home Secretary and included independent members such as Doreen and Neville Lawrence, the Metropolitan Police, national policing organisations, the Commission for Racial Equality, the then HMIC, the National Black Police Association, the Crown Prosecution Service and others.

563.The Ministerial Priority lasted until 2003. The Runnymede Trust’s 10 year on report records that it was replaced by the general commitment in the 2004 National Policing Plan, covering 2005–8, to ‘inspire public confidence in the police, particularly among minority ethnic communities’. In 2005 the then Home Secretary, Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, commissioned a review of race advisory panels in the Home Office which recommended “a move away from Standing Committees” to a more project-based approach to race equality.858 Later in 2005 the then Home Secretary stood down the Stephen Lawrence Steering Group, establishing a number of project groups to take forward this work.859 The Commission for Racial Equality was folded into the newly created Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2007.

564.In 2009, the Government decided that Police Authorities, which were the oversight body for policing before the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners, would become responsible for setting their own targets (see chapter four).860 Ten-year targets set in 1999 to recruit Black and minority ethnic officers were therefore dropped, at a time when only 20 of the 43 police forces had met their targets and the gap between the target and actual percentage was greatest in those areas with the largest Black and minority ethnic population.861

565.Since 2010, Governments have initiated a series of policing reforms. The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 transferred responsibility for local policing governance to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in order to strengthen local accountability.862 The College of Policing was established in 2012 to assume responsibilities in respect of setting standards and training.

566.In 2012, the former Chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association, Bevan Powell MBE, called for the re-establishment of a pan-Whitehall group to restore trust between the police and communities. He reportedly claimed that “complacency” had been allowed to creep back and argued that “the police should not be trusted to tackle racism on their own”. He called for “government intervention to hold forces to account in the fight against discrimination”.863

567.In 2015, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) was formed to replace the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and acts as a co-ordinating body for all police forces in the UK. HMICFRS is responsible for inspecting the police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and since 2017 has taken on responsibility for the fire and rescue services. In 2018, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) replaced the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following a series of structural reforms and it oversees the police complaints system. As part of these reforms, the Home Office stepped back from an active role in police leadership, but in 2019 it established the National Policing Board, chaired by the Home Secretary, to bring together senior police leaders and Government officials four times a year.

Monitoring progress today

568.At the start of our inquiry, Baroness Lawrence told the Committee that she found it “really difficult to find anything” on how many of the Macpherson recommendations had been implemented.864 In light of this evidence we wrote to the Home Office and other relevant organisations to request updates on progress against all 70 of Sir William’s recommendations. The responses we received varied in their clarity and quality. For example, the Home Office provided a comprehensive update against each of the 31 recommendations for which it was either fully or partially responsible.865 However, the response did not indicate whether the Home Office considered work on these recommendations to have been completed. It was therefore unclear as to the extent of progress that had been made. In its response, the Home Office claimed that “much work” had been and continued to be done which showed that “real and meaningful progress” had been made twenty years since the publication of the Macpherson report.866 It did however emphasise that:

[…] more should be done to maintain the legacy of this landmark report.867

569.In February 2019 Dr Neville Lawrence noted that, following the publication of the Macpherson report, the Stephen Lawrence Steering Group’s work was essential to ensuring that many of the Macpherson report’s recommendations were successfully implemented. However, the Group’s sixth and final annual report was published in 2006. Dr Lawrence stated that, without the Group’s oversight, opportunities for further progress had been lost, necessary reform had halted and dismantling institutional racism had become less of a priority for police chiefs and the Home Office.868 He called for the “re-formation” of the Group or a similar group which could have an “expanded remit to oversee reform beyond that recommended in the Macpherson report; for example reforms to the stop and search regime or how technology might be utilised to increase accountability”.869 In an interview with the Guardian in June 2020, Dr Neville Lawrence repeated his concern about a lack of government oversight of the Macpherson recommendations. He said that the police could not be “relied on to reform” and again called for the Government to “bring back a special steering group to oversee the changes promised after the 1999 Lawrence inquiry”.870

Police accountability and institutional responsibilities for delivering change

The role of Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners

570.Chief Constables (or the Commissioner in the case of the MPS and the City of London Police) are ultimately independently responsible for all operational matters concerning each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales, including day-to-day direction and control, recruitment and discipline of staff, investigations and police tactics. Chief Constables therefore play the leading role in their forces in establishing policies on recruitment, training or stop and search, or establishing the organisational culture within the force.

571.Evidence set out in this report shows a wide variation between forces in approaches and outcomes on specific issues ranging from achieving a representative workforce to use of stop and search and other policing powers, and an inconsistent approach in taking up College of Policing training and acting on recommendations made by HMICFRS.

572.The Chief Constable has overall responsibility for leading the force and is directly accountable to the PCC for the operational delivery of policing services as set out in the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan.871 Chief Constables have considerable flexibility within their own forces to bring in new policies on the issues set out within this report ranging from recruitment targets to anti-racist training to community oversight of stop and search.

573.Police and Crime Commissioners are directly elected by the public and are responsible for “the totality of policing in their local area”.872 A Police and Crime Commissioner’s statutory responsibilities include appointment of the Chief Constable of the local police force.

574.Prior to the 2021 PCC elections Hardyal Dhindsa, then PCC for Derbyshire, was the only person from a Black and minority ethnic group to hold a PCC post. He was also the APCC Deputy Lead on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights.873 Mr Dhindsa told us that this lack of ethnic diversity among PCCs was “not a good place to be” and that progress had to be made.874 The APCC wrote to all the major party leaders in 2018 alerting them to the lack of ethnic diversity among PCCs and encouraging them carefully to consider candidate selection, with a view to increasing PCC candidate ethnic diversity ahead of the following elections.875 The APCC confirmed to us that of the 38 PCCs elected in the 2021 elections, one was Black.876 Festus Akinbusoye became the first elected Black PCC (for Bedfordshire) whilst Alison Lowe was appointed by Tracy Brabin as West Yorkshire’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, the first Black woman to be appointed to this role.877 Alison Lowe will discharge a number of the PCC functions as delegated to her by the Mayor.878

575.We heard concerns that neither PCCs nor Chief Constables had been held sufficiently to account for the inadequate progress made in respect of race equality issues in policing. Nick Glynn from the Open Society Foundation told us that while HMICFRS had made a number of strong recommendations to forces on their use of stop and search, some forces were reticent to make the recommended changes.879 He argued that HMICFRS recommendations should be binding on forces and the College of Policing so that forces could not pick and choose which HMICFRS recommendations they wished to address.880

576.David Munro said PCCs had “considerable powers” to hold Chief Constables to account on issues of race equality but that PCCs’ operational use of these powers was “patchy” across the police service.881 He added there was “very little” legislative guidance on PCCs’ roles and that ultimately all PCCs were “masters” in their domains with the option to “push forward the equalities and diversities agenda” as much as they wished.882 Julia Mulligan, former PCC for North Yorkshire and then APCC lead of the Portfolio Group on Transparency and Integrity, highlighted that PCCs could use formal mechanisms to hold their Chief Constables to account on racial equality: she told us that she was one of two PCCs to have livestreamed a monthly Public Accountability Meeting (PAM) on social media inviting the public to ask questions and discuss race equality.883

577.Hardyal Dhindsa said PCCs have all the necessary powers to hold Chief Constables to account on issues of racial equality and that it was less about the powers held by PCCs and “more about hearts and minds” and being able to say “enough is enough, we need further action”.884

578.In July 2020 the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, announced a review of the role of PCCs in line with the Government’s manifesto commitment “to strengthen and expand the role of PCCs”.885 On 16 March 2021, the Home Secretary announced findings from the first part of the review in a written statement to the House.886 The recommendations, intended to “sharpen the model” would be delivered, where possible, ahead of the 2021 PCC elections. The second part of the review would begin after the 2021 elections and would focus on “longer-term reforms and the potential for wider efficiencies to be made, with a view to implementation ahead of the 2024 elections”.887

579.Some forces have established local community oversight arrangements to support improvement in their use of police powers, including stop and search. PC Ahmed told us that prior to joining Leicestershire Police he was a member of a scrutiny panel which examined body-worn camera footage. The panel would watch randomly selected camera videos alongside a police superintendent and member of the police equality unit and give feedback on “good points and bad points”, which in both cases would be passed back to the individual officer via their supervisor and manager. He noted that, since becoming a police officer, he had received feedback on his own body-worn video footage.888 Bedfordshire Police has launched a new Use of Force Scrutiny Panel to help the force improve its approach to policing in respect of arrests and “any number of scenarios” including stop and search. The panel’s members are drawn from the force’s Stop and Search scrutiny panel and community volunteers from a mix of backgrounds, ages and gender. It also has a five-member external scrutiny panel which focuses on specific issues such as the use of Taser.889 Northamptonshire Police has developed a Reasonable Grounds Panel of two police officers and a minimum of five community members who assess whether individual officers have met the legal requirements for “reasonable grounds” during stop and search. Where these requirements have not been met, corrective action is taken which may include an instruction not to conduct further stop-searches until the officer has completed a professional development plan.890

580.The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities recommended that a minimum level of engagement with communities should be secured in every police service area through the establishment of independently chaired ‘Safeguarding Trust’ groups which would be representative of their communities. In areas where community confidence in the police is low, the Commission recommended that Mayors and PCCs should publish delivery plans to close the confidence gap; implementation of these plans would also fall to be scrutinised by the Safeguarding Trust group.891

581.Twenty-two years on, police forces need to take responsibility for the lack of progress in vital areas raised by the Macpherson report. Individual forces and Chief Constables have considerable scope within their own organisations and communities to increase BME recruitment, establish fair misconduct processes, and build trust with local communities over stop and search policies. Police and Crime Commissioners also have considerable scope to hold their Chief Constables and forces to account, or to pursue measures like BME recruitment targets or additional oversight arrangements involving local Black and minority ethnic communities. Yet whilst policing has changed in many ways for the better in the last two decades, in these key areas affecting race equality too little progress has been made. Many Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners are not doing enough to tackle the problems or to recognise the additional work still needed to achieve the objective William Macpherson set out twenty-two years ago of “the elimination of racist prejudice and disadvantage and the demonstration of fairness in all aspects of policing”.892

582.The wide variation among forces in the approaches taken and outcomes achieved on specific issues in relation to race equality is a matter of serious concern. Whilst we welcome the good practice of forces that have chosen to innovate on promoting race equality, we are worried at how far this has been dependent only on individual leadership with patchy national progress as a result.

583.The lack of widespread local scrutiny and oversight mechanisms involving different communities means that, too often, impetus to make progress is left to individual Chief Constables and PCCs, without improvements being made across the board or processes to ensure the interests of minority communities are represented. All forces need to establish local community oversight mechanisms which specifically recognise the need to monitor racial disparities and to increase confidence in local minority ethnic communities.

584.Police forces also need to recognise the importance of coordinated national work to address unjustified race disparities and tackle racism. Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners should support work by the NPCC and APCC to establish national strategies and monitoring to ensure progress everywhere as problems will not be solved by forces working in isolation. Shortcomings in one force have implications for confidence and perceptions of policing nationally.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC)

585.The NPCC is charged with co-ordinating national police operations and implementing guidance and the chief officer of each UK police force is represented in the organisation through the Chief Constables’ Council, which meets every three months to discuss issues and agree action.

586.Following Black Lives Matter protests in the UK, on 18 June 2021 the NPCC issued a statement committing to the production of an action plan to look “at issues of diversity and inclusion and concerns about racial inequalities in policing and the criminal justice system, and consult on it”.893 Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, Chair of the NPCC, emphasised the importance of “a police service that is of the community, and polices with the consent of that community” but recognised that was not felt by some communities, in particular Black and minority ethnic communities.894

587.On 31 July 2020, the Chair of the NPCC and Chief Executive of the College of Policing issued an update on their plan of action for inclusion and race equality in policing.895 They said they had “listened to the concerns of those with experience of, and insights into what needs to change” and accordingly had proposed a process that would turn their commitments into effective action.896 They added that they would “make changes” before the end of 2020 where possible, ensuring that communities’ concerns would form “the bedrock” of their agenda for change. They said they hoped to have “an independent scrutiny and oversight board” in place by the end of October 2020 to support this process and confirmed they would focus initial work on five key areas:

(1)Evidence: Data collection and analysis

(2)Internal culture and inclusivity

(3)Use of powers: to include use of force and stop and search

(4)Community relations


588.The NPCC also announced in July 2020 that it would be establishing an Independent Scrutiny Oversight Board to agree the priorities of the Action Plan and hold the NPCC to account for its delivery.898 A recruitment campaign for the post of Chair of the Board closed on 25 April 2021. The recruitment pack indicates a time commitment for the postholder of 24 days per year (i.e., approximately two days per month) for a fixed term of two years, subject to review. Provision of dedicated support for the postholder and the board appears to be limited: the advertisement indicates that the postholder will have access to data and analysis and a budget to access independent communications and engagement support. Once appointed the Chair will be responsible for ensuring the fair and open recruitment of other Board members.899 As we agree our report the appointment has not been confirmed and the NPCC action plan has not been published.

589.The NPCC has a leadership function in policing, co-ordinating police forces at a national level. It is welcome that the NPCC has announced its intention to develop and implement a race equality action plan but it is deeply disappointing that this has since been delayed and that it is taking so long for forces to agree on much needed action. The capacity of the NPCC to act quickly and decisively is hindered by the difficulty of reaching agreement between 43 forces. We do not believe that the current structures will be sufficient to deliver change that is already twenty-two years overdue. The NPCC has also done important and welcome work in some of the individual areas we have considered in our report, such as on misconduct (see chapter five). Again, however, its impact has been limited where forces have been slow to address its recommendations.

The College of Policing

590.The College of Policing is responsible for setting standards of conduct, leadership and professionalism required by police officers and police staff in England and Wales and for developing written guidance for the police on a range of topics, in the form of Authorised Professional Practice (APP) guidance. The College has not produced APP guidance on diversity or inclusion.

591.While HMICFRS reported in February 2021 that “all forces use the College of Policing’s stop and search training programme or an equivalent”900 the Committee had been told in 2019 by Nick Glynn, who had previously led much of the work on the College’s stop and search guidance, that some forces had been “slow to embrace” national training and guidance on stop and search.901

592.The College of Policing has an important role to play in providing training, guidance and standards for police forces to follow. Although it has developed training and guidance on stop and search, it has not played a strong enough role in ensuring that officer training is focused specifically on anti-racism in addition to diversity and unconscious bias. We would like to see recommendations made by the College of Policing taken up consistently across police forces, so that opportunities to improve standards and practices are not lost.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct

593.The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is responsible for overseeing the police complaints system in England and Wales. Its work is conducted independently of the police, government, complainants and interest groups. However, the IOPC emphasised in written evidence to us that it “does not have overarching responsibility for the entire police conduct and discipline system”, much of which falls outside its statutory responsibility.902

594.As discussed in Chapter five, the IOPC’s capacity to address ethnic disparity in police complaints has been hamstrung by the fact that government misconduct data has not been recorded by ethnicity, and that forces’ data on ethnic disparity in police misconduct investigations has been inconsistent and incomplete to the point where it cannot be understood or acted upon. Following the NPCC’s 2021 update on progress since its 2019 review into disproportionality of misconduct outcomes for BAME officers and staff, it is expected that data on protected characteristics affected by the police complaints and discipline system will be published for the first time in October 2021.903

595.In July 2020, the IOPC announced a thematic focus on race discrimination investigations in order to, according to IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood, “establish the trends and patterns which might help drive real change in policing practice” by “independently investigating more cases where racial discrimination may be a factor in order to develop a body of evidence to identify systemic issues which should be addressed”.904 The IOPC announced that:

Initially we will focus on investigating more cases where there is an indication that disproportionality impacts BAME communities, including stop and search and use of force. We will also be investigating more cases where victims from BAME communities have felt unfairly treated by the police. For example whether the police are treating allegations of hate crime from BAME complainants seriously and where it is alleged the police have not recognised or treated BAME victims of crime as victims.905

596.The IOPC is also currently conducting a review of Taser complaints, including analysing those where there were allegations of racial discrimination.

597.Evidence given to this inquiry indicates that the IOPC (and the IPCC before it) has been too complacent on matters of race, and specifically has not worked to collate data consistently (see chapter five). We welcome the IOPC’s announcement, in summer 2020, that it will commit to a dedicated focus on race discrimination as a thematic area of review. Specifically, it states that this will involve “independently investigating more cases where racial discrimination may be a factor in order to develop a body of evidence” to advance change.906 We will examine its progress on this in a separate inquiry on police conduct and complaints.


598.Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service (HMICFRS) is an inspectorate with powers to inspect but not to regulate.907 As part of its remit HMICFRS independently assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of police forces, in the public interest.908 HMICFRS uses evidence from its PEEL inspections (police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) “together with the context within which police forces operate […] to make an assessment of each of the 43 police forces in England and Wales”.909

599.HMICFRS does not directly focus on race equality and the underlying reasons for ethnic disproportionality as part of its legitimacy inspections. Some of the evidence we received suggested that HMICFRS inspections and judgements were failing Black and minority ethnic groups, despite their often detailed and strong recommendations on key policies and procedures within the police that disproportionately affect officers and staff from these backgrounds (such as on recruitment and progression, police misconduct and stop and search). While HMICFRS made a series of recommendations to address ethnic disproportionality in police misconduct procedures in both its 2015 and 2017 PEEL legitimacy reports, the inspectorate reported at the time that no real progress had been made by forces.910

600.HMI Matt Parr could not confirm to us when the inspectorate’s most recent thematic review on racial disparity in the police was published but defended the thoroughness of HMICFRS inspections:

I have only been with the inspectorate for two and a half, three years. I am not sure that we have not done anything upon this subject going back all the way that you say, but I do not accept your argument that what we do is a glancing look at it. It is much more detailed than that. We examine many thousands of records and grievance cases every time we do an inspection. “Glancing” is just not fair.911

601.HMICFRS told us that it had not “specifically inspected the overall quality of service provided by police forces to BAME individuals and communities”. However, since 2012 it had regularly inspected all forces on the use of stop and search.912 In further evidence, HMICFRS confirmed that although many of its inspections featured “examination and assessment of issues affecting race, it had not conducted an inspection “focussed solely on race”.913

602.The NBPA told us that there should be more in-depth investigation undertaken on race equality with a greater focus on race as part of the legitimacy inspection framework, and that the recommendations from HMICFRS regarding disciplinary disparities should be made a target for forces by the end of 2019, to support inclusion in the Home Office police workforce report in 2020.914 Similarly Katrina Ffrench, former Chief Executive of StopWatch, told us that HMICFRS should look at ethnic disparities in policing as a “free standing thematic issue” and ensure that any such disparities are investigated fully.915

603.In its February 2021 report on Disproportionate use of police powers, HMICFRS committed to “continue our focus on disproportionality in aspects of policing practice”, including collating and publishing disproportionality data on its website, inspecting disproportionality in specific areas of policing through the PEEL programme, and scoping a thematic inspection on diversity in policing and the wider criminal justice system to be carried out in 2021.916

604.HMICFRS has a very important role to play in driving improvements, raising standards and measuring progress across policing. It has produced a series of extensive reports about stop and search which has added a great deal to understanding of the issues. It is disappointing that its recommendations have still not been implemented by a large number of forces, as we discussed in chapter six.

605.However, it has been far too long since the inspectorate conducted a thematic review on race. There is an urgent need for HMICFRS to address race directly in its inspections. HMICFRS should always include specific questions about race and the workforce (including recruitment and disciplinary procedures, and officer and staff attitudes to race) and workplace operations in its PEEL legitimacy inspection framework. Further, given that matters of race remain a problem across the police service, we can identify no logical reason as to why HMICFRS have discontinued regular thematic reviews of race and policing. In order to provide scrutiny of the service and to evidence its own commitment to the issue we therefore recommend that these reviews are reinstated as a matter of priority and that the first such review should take place no later than 2022.

Holding forces to account for failings

606.The APCC noted in written evidence to us that as a consequence of the Government’s 2011 reforms (the transfer of police governance to PCCs) the Home Office was now much less involved in local policing than it used to be.917

607.The Home Office told us that it was the responsibility of each PCC to hold their Chief Constable to account for any failings that HMICFRS identified in their force and “to demonstrate to their communities that there is a plan of action in place to ensure improvements are made”.918

608.The HMICFRS website however sets out that it is for Chief Constables, police and crime commissioners and, in “extreme cases”, the Home Secretary “to take action as a result of HMICFRS’s recommendations”.919 It also states that “Police and crime commissioners are required to publish their comments on each HMICFRS report within 56 days of its publication, and must include an explanation of the steps to be taken in response to each HMICFRS recommendation or an explanation of why no action has been or is to be taken in that respect”.920 A copy of this response “must be sent” to HMICFRS and to the Home Secretary for review.921 If systemic failings within a force are not sufficiently addressed, HMICFRS can put the force “through its Police Performance Oversight Group monitoring process,” which the Home Office explained to us brought together the policing sector, under the leadership of Sir Tom Winsor, to “scrutinise the force’s improvement plan, and where necessary, to constructively challenge and support its implementation”.922

609.HMI Matt Parr explained to us that, as an inspectorate, HMICFRS did not have “hard powers” to call the police to account for their performance on racial justice.923 In further evidence, HMICFRS wrote that it was not seeking any extension of its powers: it believed that regulatory powers would “fundamentally alter” its relationship with the police and affect its ability to encourage police forces to improve.924

The role of the Home Office

610.As noted in our 2018 Policing for the Future report the Home Office’s position is that it:

[…] does not run policing but is supporting the sector to become self-reforming.925

611.In England and Wales responsibility for setting the strategic direction of policing is principally shared between the Home Office and the NPCC. However, other bodies also play a role: as we have discussed, the College of Policing sets national professional standards and HMICFRS makes recommendations to forces, both individually and collectively.926

612.A number of stakeholders have raised concern about the current system of strategic decision making for policing in England and Wales.927 In a 2018 report, the National Audit Office recommended that the Home Office set out more clearly which actors are accountable for what in policing. It said that the Home Office should develop an overall strategy for policing which makes clear where services should be delivered nationally and locally.928 Former chair of the NPCC and former Chief Constable Sara Thornton said that criticisms about the effective oversight of the police failed to appreciate “the deliberate political settlement made with the introduction of police and crime commissioners”. She argued that the Home Office, police chiefs and PCCs should work together to set a clear plan for the future sustainability of policing. However, she said that the “time has come for the Home Office to provide greater leadership for the whole system”.929

613.In July 2019 the Home Office established the National Policing Board to improve “collaboration and consistency” across the 43 police forces in England and Wales.930 At the time of writing, minutes for six meetings of the Board, which is chaired by the Home Secretary, have been published, the most recent dated November 2020.931 The Board’s minutes indicate that police diversity and inclusion had been discussed as an agenda item only once, at its meeting in July 2020.932 Introducing that agenda item (Promoting Diversity and Inclusions in Policing) the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, “noted that the uplift programme presented an opportunity to embed cultural change with the next generation of police officers” and that the “Race Disparity Audit had highlighted uncomfortable truths for law enforcement” which needed to be addressed by making sure policing was “more representative of the communities it serves”.933 She called for “a joined-up national effort to include a diverse range of voices to support this work and ensure a bottom-up approach to improving leadership”.934

614.The current system for delivery and accountability on race equality within policing is not working. While there are some opportunities for ensuring accountability within the police service, our evidence indicates that these processes are far too fragmented and rarely exercised fully. Race equality tends to be left to the discretion of individual leaders or forces and important recommendations or examples of good practice are not implemented systematically. Moreover, there is a lack of a coordinated drive to make progress across policing, and insufficient follow-up actions in the form of scrutiny rewards or sanctions to ensure that change which is promised is implemented in practice.

615.Since the Stephen Lawrence Steering Group was disbanded in 2005, there has been no national focus on achieving the aims of the Macpherson report to eliminate “racist prejudice and disadvantage and the demonstration of fairness in all aspects of policing”. The various national policing bodies have not done this, nor has the Home Office. The EHRC is not equipped to monitor progress in policing regularly. Since the Commission for Racial Equality was folded into the EHRC, there has also been no separate independent national body with an explicit focus on race equality. The attempts by the NPCC to show national leadership in drawing up a national action plan are welcome but the delays in getting agreement with police forces show its limitations. We recognise the NPCC’s intention to establish an oversight board with an independent Chair. However the Chair is only expected to work for a few days each year and it does not appear that the Board will have the resources, analytical capacity or clout that we believe are needed.

616.Furthermore the withdrawal of the Home Office from an active role in policing has been responsible for fragmentation and a lack of wholesale ownership in addressing race equality issues. While we acknowledge the devolved nature of policing, the Home Office is ultimately responsible for providing leadership and accountability in this area and for ensuring that progress is made in practice. The time for the Home Office to embrace that role is long overdue.

617.The Home Secretary should establish and chair, under the aegis of the National Policing Board, a Race Equality Steering Group. The Home Secretary should have oversight of progress in addressing race equality across the 43 police forces, including the implementation of action plans, through the Steering Group which should also hold Chief Constables in England and Wales to account on the specific actions they have taken to improve outcomes for Black and minority ethnic officers in all areas of their employment. This oversight must include accountability for reaching force-level recruitment targets as part of a commitment to achieve a representative police service by 2030 (as recommended in chapter four).

618.In addition to the steering group, we believe it is so important to ensure that progress is sustained that further independent dedicated oversight on race equality in the police service in England and Wales is needed. Commitments to address issues from BME recruitment to stop and search have been made many times before, but too little has changed in practice. We cannot afford to see that happen again. We welcome the intention behind the NPCC’s proposed appointment of an independent chair for a new race equality oversight board but we believe it needs to be significantly strengthened and broadened.

619.We recommend that, in place of the oversight board, a new Race Equality Commissioner for policing is established to provide ongoing scrutiny, including analysis and advice on policing policy, tools and procedures that are likely (or have been shown) to have a potential impact on racial disparities. The remit of the post would include scope to instigate investigations and to report at the Commissioner’s discretion, with powers to gather information, make recommendations on policing institutions and where appropriate to refer concerns raised by their inquiries to HMICFRS for further examination and inspection. The Race Equality Steering Group chaired by the Home Secretary should consider and respond to the Commissioner’s independent reports. To ensure that the Commissioner has sufficient resources and powers, it should be established on a statutory basis and provided with ring-fenced funding from Government. However it is vital that the post is, and is seen to be, independent of both policing and central Government to ensure it can win the confidence of BME communities. Therefore, the Commissioner should be appointed through an independent process and be accountable directly to Parliament.

620.The renewed focus amongst policing leaders on issues of race inequality since the summer of 2020, and in particular the commitment on the part of the NPCC to the production of an action plan to consider “concerns about racial inequalities in policing and the criminal justice system” is welcome.935 However, it is vital that this work begins as soon as possible, is adopted by every police force and its objectives are followed through. Meeting the goals of the action plan cannot be left to individual policing institutions without more formal structures of accountability and scrutiny.

621.Based on the evidence we have received and the systemic problems we have identified, we recommend that in taking forward its Plan of Action on Inclusion and Race, the NPCC must focus on the following priorities:

622.Across the country police forces work hard each day to tackle crime and keep all our communities safe. Police officers and staff work immensely hard to deliver fairness in policing, to support Black and minority ethnic victims of crime, to tackle racist hate crimes and support community cohesion. But it is because the role of the police in communities is so important that the issues raised in our report need to be addressed. Our inquiry has found that the Macpherson report’s overall aim of the elimination of racist prejudice and disadvantage and the demonstration of fairness in all aspects of policing has still not been met twenty-two years on, and we have identified persistent deep-rooted problems where too little progress has been made because of a lack of focus and accountability on issues of race. While this is the case, trust between the police service and Black and minority ethnic communities will remain low and the long-standing Peel principles around fairness in policing and policing by consent will continue to be undermined.

623.The commitments made over the last year by the NPCC, by individual forces and by senior police officers to a step change in addressing race equality in policing are important and welcome. But commitments have been made in the past that were then not delivered. This time needs to be different or confidence may be permanently undermined. This time, Government and police forces must work with local communities to ensure there is real and sustainable change that improves the experiences of, and outcomes for, Black and minority ethnic communities whether within the police service or without—that raises confidence and demonstrates fairness in policing for all.

858 House of Commons, Written Ministerial Statement, Stephen Lawrence Steering Group, 21 October 2005, Column 67WS.

859 House of Commons, Written Ministerial Statement, Stephen Lawrence Steering Group, 21 October 2005, Column 67WS; some of the new projects included: “Building relations between services, including the police service and prisons, and ethnic minority communities” and “How to increase the number of black and minority ethnic staff at senior levels in public services—in particular police chief constables”.

860 Home Office, Race Equality: The Home Secretary’s Employment Targets, Report 2007/08, Ninth Annual Report.

862 MPR0034, APCC; Each territorial police force in England and Wales, apart from the Metropolitan Police Service, the City of London Police, Greater Manchester Police and West Yorkshire Police, is overseen by a PCC. The role of PCC is assumed by different bodies in other parts of England and Wales. In London by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, in the City of London by the Common Council of the City of London, in Manchester by the Greater Combined Authority and in West Yorkshire by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

864 Q1.

865 MPR0060, Home Office.

866 MPR0060, Home Office; it should be noted that this submission was received by the Committee in July 2019, hence the reference to “twenty years”.

867 MPR0060, Home Office.

868 MPR0037 Dr Neville Lawrence.

869 MPR0037 Dr Neville Lawrence.

871 College of Policing, Chief Constable: role purpose [accessed 26 July 2021].

872 College of Policing, Chief Constable: role purpose [accessed 26 July 2021]

873 MPR0034 APCC; in 2021 there were 38 Police and Crime Commissioner elections across England and Wales which successfully elected a candidate, four of which also hold responsibility for fire governance as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners (PFCCs). The difference in the total number of PCC elections in England in 2016 (40 PCCs) and 2021 is because one authority, West Yorkshire, has a new metro mayor that also assumes the role of PCC, and because the 2021 Wiltshire PCC election will be re-run in August 2021. In London, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire the responsibility for policing governance sits with the Elected Mayor, and Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime whilst in the City of London responsibility for this is held by the City of London Police Authority Board.

874 APC0003 Hardyal Dhindsa.

875 MPR0034 APCC; Q7.

876 MAC0055 APCC.

879 MPR0059 Nick Glynn Open Society Foundations.

880 Ibid.

881 Q3.

882 Q3.

883 Q3.

884 Q3.

886 House of Commons, Ministerial statement, ‘Concluding Part One of the Police and Crime Commissioner Review’, 16 March 2021, Statement UIN HCWS849.

887 House of Commons, Ministerial statement, ‘Concluding Part One of the Police and Crime Commissioner Review’, 16 March 2021, Statement UIN HCWS849.

889 Independent scrutiny, Bedfordshire Police.

892 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, February 1999, recommendation 2.

901 MPR0059 Nick Glynn, Open Society Foundations.

902 MPR0063 Independent Office for Police Conduct.

903 MAC0052 NPCC, January 2021; see chapter five where collection of misconduct data is discussed in more detail.


908 MPR0067 HMICFRS.

909 MPR0067 HMICFRS; PEEL is an annual assessment of police forces in England and Wales. Forces are assessed on their effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy. They are judged as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate on these categories (or pillars) based on inspection findings, analysis and Her Majesty’s Inspectors’ (HMIs) professional judgment across the year.

910 See chapter five.

912 MPR0007 HMICFRS.

913 MPR0067 HMICFRS.

914 MPR004 NBPA, paras 8.4 – 8.5.

915 Q23.

917 MPR0034 APCC

918 MPR0079 Home Office.

919 HMICFRS, About Us, Powers, accessed 15 October 2019.

920 Ibid.

921 Ibid.

922 MPR0079 Home Office.

924 MPR0067 HMICFRS.

925 Home Affairs Committee report, Policing for the Future, HC515, 25 October 2019, para. 219.

926 House of Commons, Policing in the UK, 3 June 2021.

927 National Audit Office, Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales 2018, September 2018, recommendation a; Sara Thornton, NPCC Chair Sara Thornton Speech APCC and NPCC Summit 2018, October 2018; House of Commons, Policing in the UK, 3 June 2021.

928 National Audit Office, Financial sustainability of police forces in England and Wales 2018, September 2018, recommendation a.

Published: 30 July 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement