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Friday, September 29, 2023

UK Police anti-racism plan faces racism claims from staff

An initiative launched by the police to improve their relations with black communities and address racism within their ranks has been accused of being racist itself by some of the ethnic minority staff involved.

The Police Race Action Plan was developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing after the murder of George Floyd in the US in 2020. It aims to help police build better relationships with black people, including their own staff, and improve their experience of policing.

However, BBC Newsnight has spoken to former members of staff who said they felt their perspectives were ignored, discounted or questioned. They also said they were treated differently to their white colleagues and faced a hostile work environment.

One black person, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC they believed people like them were seen as “troublemakers or difficult” for providing their perspectives. They said: “It was openly questioned if black people were even needed to work on the plan. I increasingly felt my voice and – at times – my lived and professional experience were being ignored.”


Another black former member of the team said the entire process left them “completely disillusioned”. They explained: “The fact that these behaviours (racism) have been displayed on a programme that set out with the good intention to ‘improve the experience for black people working in or interacting with police’ was perplexing, and left me thinking at times how serious the police were in wanting to make tangible change.”

The BBC has seen documentation that outlines other complaints from people from ethnic minorities involved with the programme, with some questioning the credibility of the plan and its true intentions.

Andy George, president of the National Black Police Association (NBPA), said members his organisation had supported had outlined areas where they had been marginalised and sidelined within the plan.

The NPCC’s chairman and Police Race Action Plan lead, Chief Constable Gavin Stephens, said he was passionate about delivering “an anti-discrimination, anti-racist police service”. He said he took any concerns raised very seriously and that anyone who carries toxic attitudes does not belong in policing.


He added that he had made a commitment that those who trust the police the least should have the most opportunity to influence, “and these experiences will influence how I lead the programme”.

The Police Race Action Plan states: “We accept that policing still contains racism, discrimination and bias. We are ashamed of those truths, we apologise for them and we are determined to change them. We have much to do to secure the confidence of black people, including our own staff, and improve their experience of policing – and we will.”

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