Claims based on a report on the use of police powers on black and minority ethnic communities have been disputed by the force’s chief constable
Greater Manchester Police in the UK is ‘institutionally racist’ according to the chair of a panel scrutinising its record, which found it was nearly six times more likely to Taser a black person than a white person.
Elizabeth Cameron has suggested that the disproportionate use of police powers ‘goes beyond unconscious bias and into the realms of racism’, while also expressing concerns about the lack of ethnic minority representation within the force’s ranks.
Stephen Watson, the chief constable of GMP, has denied that the force was institutionally racist, but admitted that it was likely that it could employ ‘somebody who behaves in a racist way’.
They would be ‘rooted and booted out’ out of the force, the chief told a press conference marking the release of its race equality report today.
The report revealed that black people in Greater Manchester were 5.7 times more likely to have had a Taser used against them, and four times more likely to have been subjected to force.
People who are black, African, Caribbean, and Black British were also found to be almost three times as likely to have been arrested.
Ms Cameron argued that the figures provided in the report were lower than what was being reported ‘on the ground’, and claimed that every black community could point to video footage of men, women and young people being ‘aggressively treated’ by officers
The chair of the equality panel, said “The reason these [videos] are going viral is because they’re people we know, they’re not actors.
“You can’t imagine what it feels like when somebody is spoken to by somebody in authority and the fear at the start of that interaction is where can this go, this can result in my death.”
GMP’s report also revealed that officers were more likely to refer to the physique of black people when justifying a decision to use force against them,
Ms Cameron said this showed that some members of the force were relying on ‘racist tropes’, adding: “It lends itself towards what I call the institutional racism that exists, and it’s undeniable”
“I’m not talking about a police officer here or there, it’s what the organisation then does about it that makes it into institutional racism.
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“There are people who fashion their ideas on a stereotype of what a black man means and what they are going to do before they even get a chance to do it.
“That’s what results in deaths in custody, disproportionate sentencing and use of force.”
However Ms Cameron said GMP had shown ‘excellent examples’ of policing, such as how the force dealt with the Black Lives Matters protests in Manchester last year.
Praise was also given to the force for publishing the report and scrutinising the figures within, leading to calls for other public services to reflect on their own practices.
GMP’s chief constable Stephen Watson suggested that the report could neither prove or disprove Ms Cameron’s assertions around institutional racism, saying that it did not provide all the answers.
On the charge that the force that he took over in May is institutionally racist, Mr Watson said ‘his answer would be no’ though ‘a lot of people think we are’.
He added: “I do not for one second deny that in an organisation which is the thick end of 12,000-strong, we may find ourselves from time to time employing somebody who behaves in a racist way and commits offences.
“But what I do know is that as an organisation when people behave in that way, they are expressly contravening all of the values that we espouse around recruitment, and training and progression.
“What is recognised internally as decent professional conduct and where people do let the wider force down at the expense of the public, we will root them out and we will boot them out, and we do that institutionally.”
More than 740 officers – around nine per cent of GMP – are black or Asian, and Ms Cameron called on the force to strive to recruit people from more diverse backgrounds.
The chair of the race equality panel said those serving members were ‘giving an acceptable face to an organisation that people themselves don’t’ feel is serving them’.