Long-awaited report on use of police powers against ethnic minorities due for release

A long-awaited report into the 'potentially disproportionate' use of police powers against ethnic minorities in Greater Manchester is due to be published almost a year since it was first expected to be released.

Greater Manchester Police were asked to produce quarterly race equality reports after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of an officer in the United States sparked worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.

Mayor Andy Burnham said the move was intended to improve accountability and confidence in policing amongst ‘disenfranchised’ communities.

The findings will be shared with Greater Manchester’s race equality panel, which was established last year with the aim of tackling racism, inequality and discrimination.

On the first anniversary of Mr Floyd’s death, Mr Burnham announced that the report will be shared with the panel next month before being published in July.

It was due to be released by the end of last summer, but Mr Burnham said it was ‘overtaken by events’ such as the Covid pandemic and ‘difficult issues’ at GMP which saw the force plunged into special measures and its former chief constable forced out of his role.

Mr Burnham told a press conference on Tuesday: “This is why we wanted to make it clear now that we have a new chief constable [Stephen Watson] in position and that this is an early priority.

“We recognise that it needs to be done to build confidence, so absolutely hold us to account on that timetable.

“The [race equality] panel is not there to pat anybody on the back, they’re there to challenge in the right way so that we bring people with us and get the kind of change we need to see.”

Home Office statistics show that black people were three-and-a-half times more likely to face force tactics by GMP between April 2018 and March 2019.

This includes handcuffing, restraint, use of batons, irritant sprays, tasers, and firearms.

These were some of the figures shared with GMP during a ‘brief conversation’ between the force and the race equality panel in January, with members repeatedly asking for the full findings of the report ever since.

Elizabeth Cameron, chair of the race equality panel, said: “We understood that the report was going to take time to redevelop because we made so many comments on the back of it.

“Our assessment at the end of that brief conversation was that we needed much more than training.

“We need to look at the deeply held views that cause reactionary responses from certain areas of policing. 

“I can’t make any more conclusions without that report in my hands.”

The panel was involved in the recruitment process of GMP’s new chief constable and were allowed to ask ‘very hard questions’ of the candidates regarding the feeling that communities had been ‘absolutely failed’ by the police.

While saying that the force still had ‘a hell of a way to go’, Ms Cameron welcomed the appointment of Stephen Watson who has a ‘superb record’ of turning forces around.

She added: “I don’t think there’s any reason to be unfair to somebody new coming into a job but I won’t be holding back in terms of representing the communities. I’m here to challenge but to constructively challenge.”

On the issue of a more diverse workforce Mr Burnham said minority ethnic representation within GMP’s ranks had risen from four per cent to 9 per cent in the last few years.

By the end of 2020/21 the force is expecting 17.5 per cent of new recruits to come from more diverse backgrounds.

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