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Police watchdog reports improvements
“We have begun an ambitious programme to redesign the operational processes we inherited, to improve both the timeliness and quality of what we deliver” informs the recently released second Impact Report 2019/20 by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

“This will result in a new way of working, one which is more dynamic in investigative approach – being more proportionate to the circumstances and making better use of evidential opportunities, such as the increasing availability of body-worn video” says the report forward by its director general Michael Lockwood, previously chief executive officer Harrow council.

Major reforms to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) – including its renaming as the IOPC – were announced by Prime Minister Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary. The IOPC replaced the Commission in January 2018 to oversees the police complaints system in England and Wales.

Core of the IOPC work is to improve public confidence in policing by ensuring the police are accountable for their actions and lessons are learnt.

In its first two years of operation, IOPC assessed more than 8,000 referrals and completed over 1,435 investigations looking at the most serious and sensitive incidents involving the police. Many of these investigations have examined the circumstances surrounding deaths, others have examined allegations of serious police misconduct and corruption ranging from abuse of position for sexual purpose to perjury, theft, neglect of duty and assault.
The report highlights its progress in the key areas of its set priorities which include improving public confidence in police accountability, and using learning to improve police practice.

They completed 718 independent investigations, 210 more than they started. Of these, 35% were completed within six months and 83% within 12 months.

Of the 538 longer standing cases they inherited from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), only 18 remained at the year end. To date, only three cases need to be finalised.

They upheld 34% of appeals in 2019/20 compared to 37% the year before, suggesting their work with forces to improve complaints handling and provide greater community assurance is making improvements.

Regarding focus on learning to ensure they try and prevent the same issues happening again, they made 105 learning recommendations to improve policies, procedures and training locally and nationally on topics including stop and search, domestic violence, tactical pursuits and search warrants.
The report makes references to groups of people like their Youth Panel, now in its second year, which helped them better understand how they can improve young people’s confidence in the police complaints system, and shared their feedback with a range of stakeholders. Research data show an 18% increase in young people who are confident that complaints are dealt with fairly by the police.

Similarly, there was a 16% increase in the number of people from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background who said they are aware of the IOPC.  However, they recognise they still have more work to do to further increase awareness and to continue to raise confidence.

The IOPC task to rebuild public confidence in police becomes more difficult given increased unhelpful examples of police conduct which have raised fears of heavy handedness and institutional racism in the force.

Hope the IOPC takes good notice of the experiences such as those highlighted by Black Lives Matter or the statement by the socialist MPs:

“it is also crucial that we in the UK recognise that we are not immune from the disease of state-sanctioned racism” and reminded that “Black people disproportionately suffer from police use of force in the UK, are over-represented in the prison population and are more likely to be sent to prison than white offenders”.

Within the context of making ‘learning recommendations to improve policies’, perhaps the IOPC could advise police for more, better and early detection of any racists/discriminatory tendencies in its staff at the recruitment and training stages, and take appropriate action. 11/9/2020