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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Chairman's Blog: I would contend that declaring Policing as ‘institutionally racist’ does not affect any behaviour within that organisation one iota

21 April 2023

"I would contend that declaring Policing as ‘institutionally racist’ does not affect any behaviour within that organisation one iota, it does not drive education, it doesn’t create equality. In fact it creates animosity, it creates further fear and divides conversation when we should all be discussing the solution"

Blog from Chair Mark Loker.

“A young black man growing up in London is 9 times more likely to be murdered than his white peers; taking the UK as a whole, the risk of a young black man being unlawfully killed is 24-fold that of his white contemporary.

Pause and reflect on why we don’t hear that number frequently in debate on policing yet reports on the ‘disproportionality of stop and search’ seem to be released weekly.

Why are we more concerned with criticising police operations than with understanding the reason for the tragic concentration of crime in a few communities? It is frankly immoral that we are obsessed with stop and search rather than concentrating on the true injustice faced by young black men.”

Sir Mark Rowley the Commissioner of the Met said that before his appointment, but 30 years on when you put that into context of what the tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence means and how we have progressed it is grim reading because it is hard to really recognise what has changed or what has improved.

Racism is a serious issue that has been prevalent in society for centuries, sadly we do not discuss the root issues, we seem intent on labelling and not having the courage to really discuss and recognise what, where, when and why. For example, it is not defined or restrained to white vs black. We often lack the courage or understanding to recognise and accept that racism is not just a problem for people of colour. It is a problem that affects everyone. Racism divides, it creates a cycle of fear and mistrust, which leads to further discrimination and hatred. This can divide communities, create tensions and incite and cause unnecessary conflict.

It can be devastating as we have seen, yet all we seem to see and hear is dispute about labelling of whether society or a force is institutionally racist or not, not how to tackle racism.

It is vitally important that we stand shoulder to shoulder to eradicate racism, it should not exist. But we do need to be proportionate, considerate and whilst acknowledging that it exists, understands the ‘whys’ and educate people about its harmful effects.

Nelson Mandela once said ‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

To combat racism, we have to teach children and adults alike about diversity and the importance of respecting differences among people.

Labels and labelling does not affect racism, if anything it denigrates further.

I would contend that declaring Policing as ‘institutionally racist’ does not affect any behaviour within that organisation one iota, it does not drive education, it doesn’t create equality. In fact it creates animosity, it creates further fear and divides conversation when we should all be discussing the solution. It does nothing to encourage candour or courage to speak up from lived experience. No one talks about what it would achieve by labelling society or an institution as racist, how would it improve, what would it achieve? It just seems to divide further and derides from what we should be trying to achieve.

We should be seeking to achieve where individuals can take specific steps to combat racism in their daily lives. This may include speaking out against racist comments and behaviour, promoting diversity in their workplaces and schools and actively seeking out opportunities to learn about different cultures and experiences. But it also and maybe more importantly should encourage and allow peers to have open conversations about personal experience and perceptions.

In a perfect world each of us wants the same thing, the trouble is not all of us have the same desire of outcome. But we need to, we must and we have to delve below the surface of the labels and identify why some perceptions still exist despite huge progress.