UN expresses concerns about “racism rooted in fabric of UK’s society”
Categories: Latest News
Monday April 30 2018
United Nations (UN)’s human rights experts have raised concerns of structural racism being rooted in the “fabric of UK’s society” just days after the 25th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder.
The experts have expressed concerns of the disproportionate number of deaths of people of African descent and other minorities that have occurred due to “excessive force by State security”.
Research conducted by INQUEST, a charity that specialises in investigating state related deaths, found that the number of deaths of people of black and minority ethnicity where “restraint” was a feature was “over two times greater than it is in other deaths in custody”.
The experts say that: “the deaths reinforce the experiences of structural racism, over-policing and criminalisation of people of African descent and other minorities in the UK”.
They also raised concerns of the lack of proper investigation by the authorities into the causes of these deaths referring to the report by the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody which found that no case has been successfully prosecuted for man slaughter even though evidence suggested “unlawful killing”.
The experts added: “Failure to properly investigate and prosecute such deaths results in a lack of accountability for those individuals and State agencies responsible, as well as in the denial of adequate remedies and reparation of the families of the victims”.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, Ms Tendayi Achiume, has been invited by the UK Government for a visit between the 30th of April to the 11th of May; with her mission paying particular attention to “the impact of Brexit on racial equality” in the UK.
Ms Achiume said: “My mission across the country, including stops in London and Belfast, will focus on explicit incidents of racism and related intolerance, as well as attention to structural forms of discrimination and exclusion that may have been exacerbated by Brexit”.
A spokesperson from the Home Office has said: “The Government takes allegations of police racism very seriously and expects all allegations to be investigated thoroughly and perpetrators dealt with robustly”.
The spokesperson added: “We are also clear that any use of force by the police must be necessary, reasonable and proportionate. Every death in police custody is a tragedy”.
The criticism comes days after the 25th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder which sparked claims that the Metropolitan Police acted incompetently in dealing with the case. This was affirmed by the Macpherson report which found the police force to be “institutionally racist”.
Whilst changes were implemented following the tragic incident, such as the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), statistics continue to show that people of African descent and minority backgrounds are disproportionately treated with excessive force by the police.
There are also concerns of the lack of BME representation amongst police officers in England and Wales; only 6.3% police officers come from a BME background, compared to 14% of the British population. This is often compared to the over-representation of the non-white population which accounts for around 25% of the prison population, compared to 12% of the general population.
Therefore, there is an urgent need for the Government to acknowledge that the current judicial system is directly, or indirectly, discriminating against members of the BME community and as such requires changes to be implemented to ensure it is not structurally racist; such as committing themselves in improving the recruitment and retention of BME representatives and committing to schemes targeting BME prisoners which facilitate rehabilitation taking into account their socio-political and religious ideals.