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To What Extent Has The Policing Of Ethnic Minorities Been Affected By The Scarman Report And The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry?

1913 words - 8 pages

IntroductionThroughout recent history the relationship between the British police and minority groups has been greatly tested. This is evident through such events as the Brixton riots (1981) and more recently the Bradford riots (2001). Britain is a multi-racial society and members of the ethnic minority community can face particular problems, such as racially motivated attacks and harassment. This often leads to distrust from minority groups towards the police, as the minority groups may feel they have no support from the police which can lead to tension. Throughout this essay I will be concentrating on the Scarman Report and the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry with regards to the effects they have ...view middle of the document...

Racially motivated crime was a largely uncharted phenomenon until the 1980s. In the 1990s a series of high-profile cases of racist murders resulted in a much wider recognition that racially motivated crime needed to be tackled more effectively.Scarman ReportThe Scarman Report came about as a result of the 1981 Brixton riots. For years black youth had been subjected to intense racist policing.Researchers found that racist language and racial prejudice were 'prominent and pervasive' among police officers, and , on the whole, these are 'expected, accepted and even fashionable, and never discouraged or opposed by their peers or senior officers. (Chan 1997)Riots erupted at the end of the first week of an operation called 'Swamp 81' in which the Brixton area had been flooded with more than 100 plainclothes cops. In two days they stopped more than 1,000 people and arrested over 100, twice the normal weekly average. This caused unrest and total outrage among the local community resulting in a violent backlash.The Swamp 81 operation serves as a tailor-made example of how to antagonise the greatest possible number of people while at the same time achieving the minimum efficiency in the direct control of a particular type of crime, in this case, footpad robbery. As it was unlikely that a mugging was going to occur directly in front of the eyes of police officers, the operation involved random stopping of 'suspicious' youth. Such an operation was not only alienating as far as the community was concerned but doomed to failure as a crime prevention exercise.(http://perso.club-internet.fr/tmason/WebPages/Deviance/Deviance8.htm)Such operations, therefore seem unproductive in trying to locate particular offenders and apprehend them, although they can be seen to make sense in terms of a deterrence method, a show of force to remind the community that the police can control the streets. The key recommendations of the Scarman Report focused on bringing police officers closer to the communities they serve. This was to be achieved by putting greater emphasis on community policing and recruiting more people from ethnic minorities to the force. He also advised the government to end racial disadvantage and tackle the disproportionately high level of unemployment among young black men as high as 50% in Brixton.Scarman urged 'vigorous efforts' to recruit more black people into the police and recommended the development of 'scientific ways' to identify racial prejudice so as to avoid prejudiced officers entering the police service (Bowling 1998)It was highlighted the need for an improvement in community and race relations training, the supervision and monitoring of police officers' performance, lay visitors schemes, recruitment procedures which identify racial prejudice in potential police recruits, and police disciplinary and complaints procedures. Overall the findings of the Scarman Report led to the introduction of many measures to improve trust and understanding between...

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