IOPC announces thematic focus on race discrimination investigations

Published: 10 Jul 2020

IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said:

"Evidence of disproportionality in the use of police powers has long been a concern which impacts on confidence in policing, particularly in Black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. But even with the numbers and the statistics, particularly from stop and search data, we still need to better understand the causes and what can and should be done to address this.

In the coming months we will be launching race discrimination as a thematic area of focus to establish the trends and patterns which might help drive real change in policing practice. Thematic case selection involves independently investigating more cases where racial discrimination may be a factor in order to develop a body of evidence to identify systemic issues which should be addressed.

Last year we began a phased move to thematic case selection which also includes domestic abuse, road traffic incidents, abuse of authority for sexual or financial gain, mental health and near misses in custody.

We know that we only see a small number of cases where discrimination is alleged. The majority of complaints about the police are rightly dealt with by the forces themselves, around 32,000 a year. Our focus on this area will mean that we take on more of these cases as independent investigations to build our evidence base. We will also draw information from relevant cases where we review the police force’s handling of the complaint. 

Initially we will focus on investigating more cases where there is an indication that disproportionality impacts BAME communities, including stop and search and use of force.
We will also be investigating more cases where victims from BAME communities have felt unfairly treated by the police. For example whether the police are treating allegations of hate crime from BAME complainants seriously and where it is alleged the police have not recognised or treated BAME victims of crime as victims. 

Increasing our focus on investigating cases where racial discrimination may be a factor means we will be able to really look at these encounters between the police and the public to identify any emerging themes. We can than see if here is a need to change policing policy or practice.

This is about identifying where we are seeing good and bad practice, and where there are then opportunities to drive real learning and change.

We know this is an issue of community concern. Our police forces can only police effectively with the trust and confidence of the community they serve. Having independent oversight and an evidence base which helps the police to learn and improve where necessary will help build that community confidence.

We’ve been preparing this work for some time and are starting earlier because of its impact on public confidence. Our work in this field is more important than ever."

  • Discrimination