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Independent Chair seeks scrutiny board for police action plan on inclusion and race

28 Oct 2021

Independent Chair seeks scrutiny board for police action plan on inclusion and race: ISOBChair Abimbola Johnson pic

Independent experts with a passion for championing inclusion and race equality have been invited to apply their skills and experience to address long-standing challenges in the relationship between Black people and the police.   

Independent experts with a passion for championing inclusion and race equality have been invited to apply their skills and experience to address long-standing challenges in the relationship between Black people and the police.   

The Police Plan of Action on Inclusion and Race is being led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, with partners from across policing, including Police and Crime Commissioners and staff associations.   

This developing plan aims to build inclusive organisations and to address negative disparities in the experiences of Black people working in, or interacting with policing​. Ultimately, to create an anti-racist police service. A supporting programme will run for at least two years to deliver the plan of action. 

The Chair of the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board (ISOB), Abimbola Johnson, has launched a campaign to recruit six independent board members to work alongside her. 

The ISOB will scrutinise, check, and challenge police leaders, publicly reviewing, reporting and communicating on the extent to which the Plan is delivered and making recommendations for further progress. 

Ms Johnson is a barrister specialising in criminal and professional regulatory defence work. Her practice predominantly centres on serious criminal cases involving gang violence, drug trafficking, and dishonesty offences. She comes to the role with both a passion to tackle racism and a professional understanding of crime and its causes. As a Black Londoner who represents a disproportionate amount of Black people in court, she is also personally and professionally familiar with the specific concerns and anxiety that many Black people feel towards the police. Ms Johnson said:  

I hope the creation of an action plan and a parallel independent board to inform, oversee and scrutinise that plan marks a recognition by the police that the onus is on them to look inwards. At the same time, the service must listen to those who have experience and expertise to create effective and longstanding systemic change.  
 
“I am looking to recruit six board members that will fearlessly advocate for the interests of Black people, while working collaboratively to develop policing that wins our trust and delivers on public protection.  

Please do not hesitate to apply even if you think you do not fit the typical mould of a board member. I am interested in who you are now, and not what you did previously. Prior board experience is not a necessity, and a previous criminal history will not be an automatic bar to selection. 

I am interested to hear from people with lived experience who are keen to contribute to the aim of constructively holding the police to account. Ultimately, having a range of voices and backgrounds on this Board will only bolster its ability to scrutinise properly. 

Applications are welcomed before 23:59 on 5 December. You can find more details here: https://bit.ly/ISOB2021

 

Background:  

The Plan of Action on Inclusion and Race is a joint NPCC and CoP Programme, led by Sir Dave Thompson, NPCC Vice Chair and Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and Andy Marsh, CEO of the College of Policing. It is supported by a programme team and stakeholder group 

The Plan of Action is focused on four workstreams, each led by the NPCC Lead: 

  • Internal culture and inclusivity  
  • Use of powers  
  • Community engagement 
  • Protection from victimisation 

The NPCC and College of Policing are continuing to consult on the actions within the plan and will be publishing phase one of the action plan before the end of the year. 

The most recent national figures (Crime Survey of England and Wales 2020) suggested public confidence in their local police currently varies by ethnicity from 74% (average, all respondents, and also all White British), to 81% Chinese. At 69% the confidence rate among those identifying as Black African is lower than the national average (74%), but the lowest rates of confidence are all within other Black communities: 

  • 54% (Black Caribbean) respondents  
  • 66% Mixed White/Black Caribbean 
  •  62% Black Other. 

An NPCC report - Understanding Disproportionality in Police Complaint & Misconduct Cases for BAME Police Officers & Staff 2019 – found disproportionality in the amount of allegations, and subsequent severity assessment and action taken in complaint and conduct allegations between White and Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority officers. 

The most recent national data (2021) for stop and search shows that there were 6 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 54 for every 1,000 Black people