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Institutional Racism

When the McPherson Report concluded its investigation into the police inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence (the murder occurred in 1993, the report concluded in 1999) it reached the shocking conclusion that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist. What it meant by this was that problems with racism in the police were not just the product of a "few bad apples" but that the institution itself – its policies and procedures – were themselves racist. It precipitated a sea change in equality legislation and policy: organisations now have to measure the impact of all their policies and procedures on specific groups with protected characteristics. Some argue that police stop and search data reflect institutional racism, e.g. in 2014, the data showed 65 Black, 23 Asian, 28 mixed race individuals being stopped and searched per 1,000 in the population, compared with 15 white individuals per 1,000. However, other studies suggest that stop and search rates might be broadly proportionate to the "available population" (i.e. people on the street at times and in locations that are routinely patrolled).

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