The Plan (published on 24 May 2022) was developed jointly by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing with input from stakeholders, including the National Black Police Association, the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board Chair, and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

The aim of the Plan is to create a police service that is anti-racist and trusted by Black people. The Plan sets out how this will be achieved in five commitments and four ‘work streams’ of actions that will be taken (all set out in a summary on page 22 of the Plan). 

An open consultation on the Plan took place, inviting any individual or organisation to take the opportunity to share their views and shape the Plan. The consultation closed on 28 August 2022 and all feedback is to be considered before the Plan is finalised in December 2022.

The EHRC’s Response

In Summary

Overall, the EHRC welcomes the work that is being done to address the issues of concern and wishes to be involved in the further development of the Plan, notably to “ensure that the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is used as effectively as possible” and “to ensure that robust systems are in place for reporting on and explaining racial disparities and reforming practices”, which “will help to ensure police forces fully comply with equality and human rights laws and standards and achieve the transformative change the Police Race Action Plan strives for”.

The EHRC responds to the three (of the eight) questions posed in the consultation that directly relate to their remit and expertise in equality and human rights law and makes 16 specific recommendations.

The EHRC’s overarching recommendation is to ensure that the Police Race Action Plan is clear in how it contributes to ensuring police forces comply, and demonstrate their compliance with the PSED in order to meet their legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010.

Response to the commitment to ‘The development of a representative workforce’

The EHRC welcomes the commitment to improve the attraction, retention and progression of Black people as part of the Plan as the lack of diversity within the police as this has remained a constant and serious issue for decades. The EHRC is clear that this commitment is key to the success of the Plan as it will demonstrate that police forces are inclusive, improve cultural competence, contribute towards increasing community confidence in policing, and, may support the outcomes of all other work streams.

In particular, the EHRC supports and welcomes:-

  • The proposed use of a positive action approach to addressing underrepresentation. However, urges that the Plan set out in more detail how it will use positive action measures to address under-representation in senior roles and actions to increase the number of female Black police officers.

· The commitment to promote ethnicity pay reporting to the Chief Constables’ Council, but recommends that police forces gather ethnicity data in line with the Office for National Statistics methodology so that it can be disaggregated.

  • The commitments to address racial disparities and outcomes in misconduct and complaints processes, but would welcome greater emphasis on the role senior officers can play in ensuring that victimisation and harassment is not tolerated. 

Finally, the EHRC recommends that a commitment to monitoring and robust evaluation of progress is written into the Plan so that effective actions can be embedded and improved, and additional measures implemented where necessary, to achieve the desired outcomes.

Response to the commitment that ‘Black people and communities are respected and treated in a fair and equitable way’

The EHRC’s recommendations focus upon how to effectively tackle racial disparities in the use of police powers and practices that negatively impact upon Black people. The recommendations include:-

  • Ensuring that there are clear references in the Code of Practice to the Equality Act 2010, race as a protected characteristic and compliance with the PSED to ensure that police forces consider and comply with equality law.
  • That safeguards are explored and put in place to ensure non-discrimination in the use of stop and search powers (including making compliance with the PSED and best practice mandatory).
  • That police forces are firmly held to account for implementing the national approach for their use of stop and search powers to make sure these are used in a consistent, lawful, non-discriminatory manner.
  • Using the EHRC’s human rights framework on restraint in the development and implementation of use of force policies, including the use of tasers, practices and training.
  • The prohibition of police forces from using tasers on children.
  • That the recording of vehicle stops should include a breakdown of ethnicity data at national and force level to ensure transparency, promote best practice and support efforts to address racial disproportionality. 
  • That further work should be done in partnership with the EHRC and other regulators to ensure that:- (1) fairness and equal treatment are embedded in the design and operation of digital forensic services (including biometric data, facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence (AI)); and, (2) that those services and any records retained are operated in a way that is fully compliant with, and minimises any breach of, equality and human rights law.
  • The provision of clear leadership on the requirements of the PSED when procuring, commissioning, developing or using AI and digital services.

How Capsticks can help

Capsticks has significant experience in supporting employers in the context of equality, diversity and inclusivity through drafting policies, codes of conduct, delivering training to employees at all levels and also to deal with any issues that may arise. If you would like access to advice, training or need further guidance on equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace (either generally or in relation to a specific case) please contact Paul McFarlane, Jessica Blackburn or Lee Carroll.