Earlier this week, the National Black Police Association delivered a special conference in partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), College of Policing, and the University of East London.
The event was both educational and poignant, and offered a chance to remember Stephen Lawrence and continue his legacy through policing.
NPCC Chair Chief Constable Gavin Stephens spoke at length about Stephen's legacy, and stated that although policing has made changes in the past 30 years, they have not been fast enough and have not gone far enough.
As the newly elected Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, I believe it is my duty to lead the Police Race Action Plan as the Senior Responsible Officer.
My role as Chair is key to increasing the trust and confidence of members of the Black community.
On a personal level, I am determined to do what is right – not what is easy – but what is right.
When you join the police service you swear an oath of allegiance to support the vulnerable, to target those committing crime and to try and bring them to justice. And I am committed to doing just that, so we’re not having these same conversations in another 30 years.
There have been numerous catalysts that have demanded change in the relationship between the police and Black communities and 30 years on from Stephen’s racist murder policing needs to show humility - progress has neither been quick enough nor done enough to tackle the systemic issues that reappear time and again.
I recognise those frustrations and am standing here today to reaffirm the unanimous commitment to change by the chief constables of forces in England and Wales, including the British Transport Police.
This Police Race Action Plan’s core purpose will resonate with police officers, staff and volunteers.
We will improve the service to people within Black communities.
We will also improve our targeting of those who prey on the vulnerable, and we seek to increase confidence in policing as a result. To deliver this plan, we will provide evidence of systemic change that is linked to tangible outcomes. I welcome the public scrutiny of this progress and recognise that the improvements delivered so far are as a direct result of working alongside many other organisations and community groups. This includes an Independent Oversight and Scrutiny Board (ISOB) that is unique in policing. Policing has always sought to deliver on its Public Sector Equality Duty.
Since the Plan was published in May 2022, the NPCC and College of Policing have continued to work with stakeholders to refine the activities set out in the plan, so they have clear timeframes for delivery and are best placed to improve outcomes for Black people.
During this time, we have also invited members of the public, individual police officers and staff, and representatives from policing and race equity organisations to share their thoughts on the Plan, as well as the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board led by Barrister Abimbola Johnson.
We have reshaped some of the actions based on this feedback, but we have more work to do before we publish the second iteration of the Plan to ensure we get this right.
This plan is far more than mere compliance. I am determined that together, we will create an environment that demonstrates zero tolerance to racism.