Hackney commits to improving racial inequalities in policing

Widespread protests against racist policing took place earlier this year. Pic: AleReportage

Plans to tackle systematic racism and disproportionate policing have been adopted by Hackney Council, in response to the Mayor of London’s Action Plan.

Launching the plans, Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney said: “We must recognise the importance of tackling systemic racism and scrutinising the police at a local level by closely working with local communities, who must be at the heart of shaping policies that affect them.”

The council first wants to ensure better training for officers, a greater transparency and stronger processes for holding police accountable for their actions. To do so, they are working with youth-led police monitoring group Account to understand the systemic nature of racism, ensuring that those most affected by Stop and Searches are heard.

A joint trust and confidence action plan is being put together to monitor and drive progress of this work. The statement says they will share their plans during an event in March 2021.

The Council heard the voice of 2,500 young local people through the Hackney Young Futures Commission’s report launched last July, which documented the living experience of young citizens. “Understanding these lived experiences is central to shaping and driving work to improve the lives and opportunities of young people in our borough.” said Glanville.

Young Futures is independent of the council, but organised, funded by and accountable to them. The commission helps to amplify the voice of young people in the council’s decision, taking witnesses from 10 to 25-years-olds.


Facing disproportionate policing

Monitoring group Account, launched the ‘Policing in Hackney: Challenges from Youth in 2020’ report in November, highlighting past and recent issues between Hackney citizens and the police. They gave statistics on trauma, trust and accountability. On many highlighted points, it showed an increase of handcuff usage by 158% in the last three years, disproportionate use of Stop and Search and of violence between the police and black and white people.

The report highlights key statistics :
Young black men are six times more likely to be stopped and searched than young white men.
Black men are four times more likely to have force used against them.  
Black people are two times more likely to die in custody than white people. There have been 10 deaths in custody since 1990 that a jury have ruled as ‘Unlawful Killing’. Of these deaths there has been zero successful prosecutions for murder or manslaughter. 

Hackney Council highlighted the urgency of the work because of the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s review into the use of Stop and Search which revealed significant failings: “Such as the excessive use of handcuffs, inappropriate use of Stop and Search and failure to properly use body cameras.” They recently discussed with the IOPC, the police, Hackney Account and other local organisations about the findings of the review to decide how to rebuild faith and trust in the police across Hackney. 

Glanville said: “We recognise that Stop and Search makes up just one part of a wider, deep-rooted systemic issue at the core of British institutions and societies, and we will do everything in our power to tackle it in the round.”

He also spoke of the motion they passed last summer to commit to becoming an anti-racist organisation. This included implementing a pioneering new Black history curriculum at school, developed by Hackney teachers and council staff.

Children would also be taught about the many untold stories “which have been neglected by the national curriculum for far too long.” 500 schools have already joined forces to ensure Black British history is part of the program.

Moreover, the council is inviting residents to express ideas to rename streets and spaces named after slave owners. Hackney Museum will lead an online event on December 9 to share points of views and enhance the representation of African and Afro-Caribbean communities in Hackney’s public places.

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