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Criminal Justice

BTEG’s race equality audit and RDA’s review of Police and Crime Plans find glaring race disparities and disadvantage

Two reports have been published today on the content and emphasis of Police and Crime Plans, produced by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs).

In May 2017, the Young Review policy team at the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) undertook what is the first race equality audit of the 42 Police and Crime Plans for England and Wales.  The audit shows a clear lack of focus on issues affecting black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

Police and Crime Plans are statutory documents and set out the PCC’s priorities for their areas. This audit follows the launch of the Government’s race disparity audit in October 2017 and the new drive from the Cabinet Office to end ethnic disproportionality in the criminal justice system.

The report shows a lack of strategic focus on race equality in the Police and Crime Plans. Key findings from the audit were:

  • More than three quarters (32) of the plans made no reference to race equality and improving outcomes for BAME communities.
  • Only a quarter (10) of the plans made some in-depth reference to an issue affecting local BAME communities.
  • Only six plans highlighted demographic and ethnic breakdown for their area.
  • One quarter (10) of the 42 plans referred to or highlighted an overarching equality strategy.
  • Gwent, with one of the lowest BAME populations of 1.8%, had one of the clearest equality statements.
  • Only two plans highlighted lower levels of confidence from BAME communities in the police than that of the wider populations for their area.

In the UK, 87% of people are white, and 13% belong to a BAME group. However, Government statistics show that:

  • BAME groups are more than one and half times more likely to be arrested than white people and are three times more likely to be stopped and searched.
  • Black people are more than three times more likely to be arrested than white people and six times more likely to be stopped and searched.

The report contains five recommendations including:

  • Police and Crime Plans should set out how they will meet their statutory duties under the Equalities Act 2010. This should include analysis of local police data, identification of race inequalities and actions to address them.
  • Police and Crime Plans should include a demographic breakdown of the local area and feature ethnicity and faith data.

The Young Review will be working closely with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners in moving this agenda forward.

The second report by Revolving Doors Agency is a review of police and crime plans focusing on to what extent disadvantage is recognised and what strategic plans are put in place to deal with it.

The review explores how Police and Commissioners (PCCs) address the issue of people trapped in the ‘revolving door’, who as a result of homelessness, poor mental health and substance misuse, come into repeated contact with police and courts, and how they support young adults to grow out of crime.

The review demonstrates that many PCCs recognise these multiple disadvantages and their relationship to crime, and across the country are willing to innovate and take risks in order to prevent and address crime.

Key findings include:

  • An overwhelming majority of police and crime plans identified domestic violence (95%), mental health (95%), and substance misuse (88%) as the key vulnerabilities in their local areas;
  • Whilst two thirds (65%) of PCCs recognise the needs of young people in transition to adulthood, it is disappointing that this represents a drop from previous plans (86%) given the evidence that appropriate interventions at this time can mean young offenders are more likely to stop offending;
  • In comparison to former plans there was a decreased reference to vulnerable families in assessment of needs (88% in old plans; 49% new plans);
  • Despite housing being identified as a local need in a third of the plans, it rarely appears as a strategic priority (5%);
  • Whilst 88% of PCCs recognise substance misuse as a key vulnerability, it is disappointing that this has decreased from 98% in previous plans, given the context of rising numbers of drug-related deaths across the country.

The review concludes that the overall picture is a positive one.   However, the ambition to address the needs of people facing entrenched disadvantage varies across the country.

Read ‘Police & Crime Plans: A Race Equality Audit’
Read ‘Under the spotlight: reviewing police and crime plans for multiple and complex needs, and transition