Police tackle race issues

RACE relations campaigners today welcomed a new police pledge to ask anyone who reports a crime, or is stopped and searched, to describe their ethnic origin.

RACE relations campaigners today welcomed a new police pledge to ask anyone who reports a crime, or is stopped and searched, to describe their ethnic origin.

The new procedure which starts in April, will apply to anyone who comes into contact with the police in certain situations. It is part of a national drive for improvements to the system, in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report.

Suffolk Police's chief constable Alastair McWhirter said: "Previously, this classification has been carried out by officers. The introduction of this procedure comes from a recommendation in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report, which recommended that the public should be allowed to state their own ethnicity when in contact with the police.

"I am confident that this improved system will help. It will give people the automatic right to choose how they wish to define their ethnicity, and will no longer rely solely on an assumption made by a police officer. In turn, it will mean the quality of information gathered will be more accurate and can therefore be used more effectively in monitoring our performance and help us continue to improve our service.

"Suffolk Constabulary is committed to dealing fairly with all sections of the community."

Community leaders have been informed about the new procedure.

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Sam Budu, director of Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality said: "This is what we expect organisations to do, and then monitor and analyse, in order to assess whether any bad practice or discriminatory behaviour is happening within the service they are providing.

"This is a step in the right direction, but we would like to see a bit more in the future. Organisations should not only monitor ethnicity, but equality in terms of gender, disability and other areas. All these things needs to be measured and it is in the interests of the organisations do that."

The new procedure is due to be discussed at Suffolk Police Authority's consultation and partnerships committee on March 12.

Weblink: www.iscre.org.uk

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