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How will the enhancement of police powers in light of Covid-19 impact on the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community?

EQUAL recognises the need to use police powers to ensure compliance with social distancing policies to curb the spread of Covid-19, however, we are concerned about the impact this may have on disproportionality in policing. 

It is unclear how these encounters will be recorded or whether they will be recorded at all. Historically statistics show that black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts. With a lack of clear guidance on these proposed enhanced powers there is a concern that this disproportionality will only increase. 

The police statistics April 2018/19 show that black, Asian and minority ethnic groups made up 22% of police use of force incidents despite only making up 5.5% of the population. An increase in power, no requirement of suspicion and a lack of trust in the police from BAME communities is potentially a recipe for disaster. 

All the evidence to date suggests that BAME communities are more likely to be stopped by the police under these new powers and EQUAL are calling for a rigorous monitoring process.

Commenting on Coronavirus Act 2020, given royal assent this week, Shadae Cazeau, Head of Policy at EQUAL said,

“Without knowing how officers will record these encounters with members of the public it will be difficult to assess how this may impact upon disproportionality. There is already a lack of data more generally in policing and we are concerned that this may further affect trust between BAME communities and the police.

There is also a huge risk in using officers to assess potential coronavirus carriers; this is again vulnerable to abuse particularly given the grave consequences, including detention in custody and/or a fine of up to £1000. 
It is concerning that there will be little way of knowing whether those detained failed to self-isolate or just didn’t realise they were carrying the virus if they are at all. 
The risks to already over policed BAME communities are ominous and the power to disperse, stop and engage with communities without the safeguards of the usual protocols has the potential to lead to further abuses of power.”

ENDS

Notes

  • The Young Review launched in December 2014, with Baroness Lola Young as Chair, with a report giving a comprehensive insight into the disproportionality of young black and/or Muslim men within the Criminal Justice System (CJS). It made five transformational recommendations to inoculate against racial bias within the CJS. One of the recommendations of the report was set up an independent advisory group which was established with experts from various fields of the CJS. YRIAG oversaw the implementations of the recommendations from the Young Review. 

  • In 2019, to continue the important legacy of The Young Review, Iqbal Wahhab OBE was appointed as Chair of the National Independent Advisory Group (NIAG) which has been rebranded and renamed as EQUAL.

  • EQUAL’s 3 policy priority areas are: Prisons and Probation, Policing and BAME Young People and the Youth Justice System.

  • EQUAL National Independent Advisory Group members include:

  • To arrange an interview or comment, please contact:

Jeremy Crook, Chief Executive of BTEG 0207 832 5810, email: Jeremy@bteg.co.uk

Shadae Cazeau, EQUAL Head of Policy, 0207 832 5807, email: Shadae@bteg.co.uk

  • EQUAL Policy and Communications Secretariat is provided by the Black Training and Enterprise Group. Charity Number: 1056043

  • EQUAL is funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Esmée  Fairbairn Foundation and the Lankelly Chase Foundation.

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