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POLICE chiefs’ new racism action plan has been criticised by campaigners, who predict that the strategy will fail unless forces accept that they have a problem with institutional racism.
All officers in England and Wales will receive mandatory anti-racism training as part of the plan, published today by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, to root out racism.
The NPCC also wants to recruit more black officers and staff and launch a thorough review of stop-and-search powers to improve confidence in the police among black communities.
The race action plan also includes an apology for the “racism, discrimination and bias” still found in police forces and has received the backing of all 43 chief constables in England and Wales.
However, campaigners expressed disappointment that police chiefs have stopped short of accepting that their forces remain “institutionally racist” and said that they expect the proposals to have “no impact in the long term.”
That there is institutional racism in policing was the landmark finding of the 1999 Macpherson report on officers’ failings during the investigation into the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. The Metropolitan Police has denied that the finding still applies to the force.
Amnesty International UK racial justice director Ilyas Nagdee said that recent high-profile incidents, including the strip-searching of black schoolchildren, suggest that the police “remain in denial about its deep-rooted racist thinking and practices.”
Kevin Blowe, campaigns co-ordinator at police monitoring group Netpol, said: “The measure of genuine progress is seen on the streets, yet it is very difficult to see how this can happen when the police still can’t even acknowledge that institutional racism exists.
“You can’t fix a problem if you won’t even accept you have one. We expect this action plan to have no impact in the long term.”
Anti-racism campaigner and Black Activists Rising Against Cuts chairwoman Zita Holbourne said that the plans feel “very tokenistic” and like a “box-ticking exercise.”
Ms Holbourne highlighted police failures to implement recommendations in the Macpherson report, adding that racism in the police has worsened in recent years.
“I can’t see anything that is concrete that sets out what they’re actually going to be doing to have tangible results that’s going to put trust in them and that’s going to ultimately change the culture,” she told the Morning Star.
“What are they going to do to not attract people with racist views to come and work in the police?”
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