The MacPherson Report
On Monday evening, I led a debate to mark the 20th anniversary of the MacPherson Report. The report concluded that Stephen Lawrence’s brutal murder, on 22nd April 1993, was unequivocally motivated by racism and found the MET police to be institutionally racist.
The report highlighted necessary change in a number of related areas, making 70 recommendations for the Home Office, police forces and other public bodies.
After twenty years, we have seen a lot of change but there’s also been stagnation. One such area that I highlighted is the fact that across England and Wales, the proportion of officers from a BAME background, at 6.6%, remains significantly lower than the general population, which is 14% BAME.
It has been suggested that it will be 2052 before the police service represents the population it serves. There is also a dire lack of black female police officers. Indeed, 13 of 43 police forces in England and Wales have no black female officers. In fact, the total number of black female officers in the past ten years has only increased by 34. While there are efforts to recruit more BAME officers, these efforts are undermined by a culture that is still not embracing diversity.
Again, this is an exceptionally troubling picture. It fundamentally undermines the authority and legitimacy for police forces to fail to represent the communities they serve.
I also noted the important point that the Macpherson report criticised disproportionality in stop and search. Figures suggest that race this is actually worse now than it was twenty years ago. A black person is 9 ½ times more likely to be stopped and searched today than a white person.
Taken altogether, it points to a culture of institutional racism which must be tackled as a cross-party effort. It is an important challenge and I hope that colleagues on both sides of the House will join me in reflecting on the diversity of the communities we represent.