Justice Initiative Calls on UK Government to Address Racial Discrimination by Law Enforcement during COVID-19 Lockdown
The Justice Initiative has joined 20 organizations in an open letter calling on the UK government to narrow police powers contained in the Health Protection Regulations, which gives police the power to arrest and fine people for violating the lockdown, to prevent racial minorities from being disproportionately targeted. The letter also notes that individuals of color are disproportionately impacted by both the coronavirus and expanded police powers under lockdown, noting that these communities tend to be “over-policed and under-protected”.
An investigation by Liberty Investigates and The Guardian has found that racial minorities in England are 54 per cent more likely to be fined under the Regulations. According to provisional statistics from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), 17,000 fines have been handed out so far in England and Wales. In addition, a review of charges under the Regulations conducted by the Crown Prosecution Service revealed that a number of cases were wrongly charged—an injustice that human rights groups believe disproportionately impact racial minorities.
The letter calls on the government to:
- Amend the Regulations to narrow the power to give instructions, make breach of any restriction a criminal offence only where a person knowingly causes another person immediate harm, exclude children from criminal sanction entirely, and exclude all homeless people, broadly defined, from the Regulations entirely;
- Publish disaggregated data for each police force on the use of the powers under the Regulations;
- Establish a uniform right to appeal against any fine issued under the Regulations and request that the police review all fines issued to date; and
- Publish a rigorous Equality Impact Assessment for any future measures that the Government seeks to implement.
The Recording of Police Stops and Toolkit for the Analysis of Police Identifications
These toolkits seek to provide an overview of best practices regarding the recording of police stops, routine interactions between officers and the public, and the analysis of this data to improve policing.
When It Comes to Race, European Justice Is Not Blind
A new survey of 12 EU member countries shows that how people are treated by the police and the courts often depends on their race or ethnic background.
Ending Racial Bias in Police Stop and Search
Despite recent reforms, police in the UK continue to unfairly target people of color when using stop and search. A new report should be a wake-up call to those who still defend this failed, counterproductive policy.