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Police Chiefs must actively listen to Black communities and organisations: comments on the draft Police Action Plan

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and College of Policing’s Police draft Race Action Plan: Improving policing for Black people, published Tuesday 24th May, is a positive first step towards tackling racism across police forces in the UK.

As the first national action plan to improve outcomes for Black people with commitment from all 43 forces, we welcome the acknowledgment that a targeted and transformational effort is necessary to tackle the racism that persistently undermines Black communities’ trust and confidence in the police.

It is also encouraging to see the creation of an Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board that will provide external scrutiny of the Plan.

Deeper consideration

The success of the Plan in repairing relations and addressing racial disparities will depend on police chiefs leading from the front, taking a zero-tolerance approach to racism within their ranks, and rethinking how they engage and listen to Black people in the community and in their own workforce. For example, the Plan contains actions that have been implemented previously, such as anti-racist training. In order for such training to be effective, it should be created by Black communities and experts and delivered regularly and across the whole system. 

In order to truly address racial inequality for Black people, this Plan must also be strategically linked to changes in the broader criminal justice system. We support wider calls for the Ministry of Justice to also publish their race action plan.

Jeremy Crook OBE, Vice Chair of EQUAL and CEO of Action of Race Equality says: 

‘EQUAL welcomes the opportunity to respond to the consultation process on the Race Action Plan and encourages other organisations and individuals to do so too. However, Dr Neville Lawrence is right in challenging the police to accept that intuitional racism is the root of the problem.

We will only see change when Black communities and their organisations, especially those that work with Black children and young men, have the respect, resources and means to access transparent and inclusive processes locally that will enable them to scrutinise and challenge systemic racial inequalities. The police and the Government should not expect Black communities to do this on a volunteer basis. The listening must be deep and influence policy at every level.

The police are expert at overwhelming small Black community groups with data and reports while nothing changes operationally. This must shift. ARE is currently supporting a ground-breaking Black Men for Change initiative known as the Alliance for Police Accountability (APA) which plans to develop new methods for engaging with the police and reducing violence within our communities in partnership with local Black community youth organisations.' 

We also remain cautious that the Race Action Plan implementation relies on the ‘Explain or Reform’ principle set out in the 2017 Lammy Review, as this has not led to the reduction in disparity across the criminal justice system for Black people we hoped for. 

We urge the National Police Chiefs' Council and the College of Policing to actively listen to Black communities and organisations in shaping the final plan and remain transparent and accountable to them throughout the delivery and implementation. We can only hope this Plan fundamentally changes the way Black people are treated to create a justice system built on equality and not on racism.

The College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) are inviting feedback on the Police Race Action Plan via a survey. All views are welcome, as an individual or organisation, from both inside and outside of policing.

The survey closes on Sunday 28 August. 

Read the draft Race Action Plan