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18th December 2023

ISOB RESPONSE FOLLOWING THE JOINT REPORT ON THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE ALLIANCE’S SUPER-COMPLAINT TO REPEAL SECTION 60 STOP AND SEARCH POWERS

We welcome the publication of the HMICFRS, the College of Policing and IOPC joint report on Section 60 (s60) stop and search powers. Stop and search is a major driver of mistrust of the police by Black communities due to its disproportionate use against Black people. The publication of the joint report in response to the super-complaint to repeal s60 stop and search powers, submitted by the Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA), highlights how there remains a serious and dangerous underestimation of the harm caused by this power.

S60 stop and searches, which allow police officers to stop and search people even if they don't have suspicions about them, are disproportionately used on Black people. As noted in the CJA’s ‘More harm than good’ report, between 2016-2020, Black individuals were 18 times more likely to be stopped and searched under these powers. Therefore, it is crucial that it is both used sparingly and that there is robust scrutiny of this power and its impact. 

We are concerned by the report’s failure to interview people who have been subject to a s60 search. Stop and search can be a humiliating and traumatic experience, which is why it is essential that any discussions around this use of power must be person-centred or risk not addressing the key issues. Whilst there are challenges to seeking the views of those subject to a traumatic experience, we believe more could have been done to work with organisations expert in this area, directly to young people and youth-led groups or police accountability organisations.

The report highlights an inconsistency in s60 briefing content and quality for officers. This suggests there is a casual approach to s60 searches and the impact they can have on those subjected to them, and that not enough care is taken to ensure that all individual uses of s60 are lawful, necessary and proportionate.

The lack of consistency in applying policy into practice is why we are not surprised by the report’s findings that officers are failing to provide safeguarding to children and young people. It challenges the prevailing narrative by the police that stop and search is essential to protecting the public and that young people will be treated as victims. It is clear from the report that children and young people are being criminalised instead of receiving the support that they require. The report also highlights a misestimation by policing of the seriousness of child safeguarding when the police wield this power. As the Child Q incident has highlighted, current safeguards are not fit-for-purpose leading to irrevocable trauma to young people and their communities.

The report misses an opportunity to be transparent and to bring effective scrutiny of the use of s60 at a force level by failing to name in which force area-specific issues were discovered. The biggest users of s60, Greater Manchester, Metropolitan Police Service, Thames Valley, West Midlands and West Yorkshire are key. Specific reference to the problematic use of s60 by named police forces is essential to ensuring effective scrutiny occurs and to encourage positive change in that force area, and more broadly. 

 

Implications for the national Police Race Action Plan

  • Child safeguarding must be at the forefront - the inconsistent application of child safeguarding and the criminalisation of this vulnerable group. We would like to see greater cross-working between Workstreams 2 (Use of Powers) and 4 (Not under-protected against victimisation) to ensure Black children and young people who are stopped and searched are properly safeguarded rather than being criminalised. 
     

  • Effective community engagement - community engagement is a key accountability check on the use of police powers. The Race Action Plan team should increase engagement with community groups, civil society, and police accountability organisations. 
     

  • Introduce robust data collection and analysis - there are times that arrests are made and weapons are seized but there is no data that measures the effectiveness of s60 as a deterrent to crime and in keeping communities safe. Policing must adopt an agreed national approach for the recording, analysis, supervision and scrutiny of police powers. 

 

To have meaningful action on tackling racial discrimination in policing, the national Police Race Action Plan must take meaningful action on stop and search. This latest report serves as a reminder that, unfortunately, there is still much to be done in tackling one of the biggest drivers of mistrust in the police. 

 

Nick Glynn 

Interim Chair of the Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board 
 

30th November 2023

INTERIM CHAIR FOR THE INDEPENDENT SCRUTINY & OVERSIGHT BOARD (ISOB) APPOINTED

Nick Glynn appointed Interim Chair as Abimbola Johnson goes on maternity leave until March 2024


He will commence the role in December 2023 


Glynn is an expert on police use of force, racial profiling and stop and search

Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board (ISOB) member and Police accountability expert, Nick Glynn, has been appointed Interim Chair of the ISOB. He will assume the position from December 2023 while current Chair, Abimbola Johnson, takes maternity leave returning in March 2024. 

Nick brings a wealth of experience to the role. He is a Senior Program Officer at Open Society Foundations leading on police accountability and justice in several countries, covering police powers, police use of force/violence, protest, drug policy reform, mandatory detention, and discrimination within the criminal legal system. 
 
Prior to joining Open Society Foundations, Nick led successful reforms to Leicestershire Police’s use of stop and search from 2010 which resulted in an 85% reduction in the use of stop search powers over the following 4 years. In 2014 he was appointed by the then Home Secretary as national lead on stop and search for the College of Policing, implementing many of those reforms nationally including the introduction of the ‘Best Use of Stop & Search Scheme’ and national training for all police officers on stop and search. 

He was elected Vice President of the National Black Police Association in 2013, where he led on accountability for police use of powers. He has also served on the Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board since May 2022 where he focuses on scrutinising the Use of Powers workstream. 

Nick Glynn, Interim Chair of the Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board, said:

 “I am pleased to be appointed Interim Chair of the Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board. Having served on the Board since its inception, I know the importance of ensuring that the Police Race Action Plan delivers on its aims for Black people. The Casey Review and the ISOB’s first annual report provide grounds for much needed change and I am particularly keen to see an acceleration of progress on Police use of Powers. I feel privileged to be in a position to ensure that policing advances the changes needed to create a fairer system for all.” 

Abimbola Johnson, current Chair of the Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board, said:

“As a tireless advocate and campaigner for greater police accountability, there is no safer pair of hands than Nick. He brings unparalleled experience to the role. There are key opportunities and challenges for the Race Action Plan over the coming months, including how it ensures that a genuine commitment to improving policing for Black communities is at its core in order to achieve its anti-racist goals. One of our main concerns is prioritising anti-racism work on stop and search and use of powers which have not been sufficiently visible in the Race Action Plan. With Nick at the helm I am reassured he will be able to continue to push for progress in this area."

Dr Alison Heydari, Race Action Plan Programme Director and T/Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said:

“Nick has considerable experience working with the police and crucially holding us accountable. His appointment to Interim Chair is a testament to his dedication to tackling racial disparities in policing and its effect on Black communities. We know that Nick will continue to provide the open and honest feedback we expect from both him and the ISOB, ensuring the Police Race Action Plan is being delivered correctly and responsibly. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Independent Scrutiny Oversight Board under Nick’s leadership.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Nick Glynn 

Nick Glynn is an expert on police accountability, use of force, racial profiling and stop and search. He is a senior program officer at Open Society Foundations, leading work on police accountability and justice in several countries, covering police powers, police violence, protest, drug policy reform, mandatory detention and discrimination within the criminal legal system. He is a member of the National Taser Stakeholder Advisory Group which seeks to hold police accountable for the use and expansion of police use of tasers in England and Wales.

Nick has worked on police accountability and reform since 2006 in several countries including Belgium, France, Holland, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Prior to joining Open Society Foundations, Nick served as a police officer with Leicestershire Police (UK), rising to the rank of Chief Inspector. He gained extensive experience as a public order and firearms commander. 

Nick read law at Nottingham Trent University and has a master’s degree (MSt) in applied criminology from the University of Cambridge. He has written for numerous publications including the Guardian, the Times, the Independent, and the Telegraph.

About the Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board 

The Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board (ISOB) exists to provide overview and external scrutiny of the Police's Plan of Action.

The focus of the Plan is on the experiences and concerns of Black people due to the starkness of the racial disparities present in policing's interactions with Black communities.

In August 2023, the ISOB published its first annual feedback report, Police Race Action Plan: Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board Annual Report, which provides its feedback on the Police Race Action Plan and outlines recommendations for how the Plan, if more robust, can create a fairer policing system for Black communities. 

www.policeisob.co.uk

About the Police Race Action Plan 

Published in 2022, the Police Race Action Plan sets out the ambition of police chiefs in England and Wales to build an anti-racist police service and address race disparities affecting Black people working within or interacting with policing. The Police Race Action Plan has been 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.
 

6th September 2023

ISOB WELCOMES APPOINTMENT OF DR ALISON HEYDARI AS NEW RACE ACTION PLAN INTERIM PROGRAMME DIRECTOR 

We welcome the appointment of Dr Alison Heydari as the new Interim Programme Director for the Race Action Plan.

 

This fills an important vacancy in the Programme structure where key leadership is required.

 

We hope that Dr Heydari will provide a fresh perspective on the Plan that will incorporate the innovative thinking required to deliver its anti-racist goal.

As highlighted in our first annual report, there are key opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the Race Action Plan. We have outlined our key recommendations for the next stages of the Race Action Programme, including: 

  • Restructuring the Race Action Programme to better reflect an anti-racism programme

  • Provision of adequate resourcing to the Plan

  • An increase in engagement with external stakeholders

  • The development and delivery of a clear communications strategy

  • Tangible and measurable performance metrics

  • Identification of clear areas of focus

  • Improvements to the flow of information to the Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board.

We hope that our feedback serves as a blueprint for how the Race Action Plan can become an actionable, robust, and genuinely anti-racist programme of work that the public deserves.

We look forward to working with Dr Heydari to ensure that the Race Action Plan achieves the aims it set out to accomplish three years ago.

8th August 2023

POLICE RACE ACTION PLAN REQUIRES RESTRUCTURE TO ACHIEVE ANTI-RACISM AIMS, ISOB

  • Police Race Action Plan structure needs reconfiguring to achieve anti-racist aims, according to new ISOB annual report

  • Report outlines seven key areas for improving the Race Action Plan including introducing tangible success metrics, better admin support and resources for coordinators, and a clear communications strategy

  • Recommendations come ahead of reiteration of the Plan in coming months

The structure of the Police Race Action Plan needs to better reflect an anti-racism programme to achieve its commitments, according to a new report by the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board.

 

The ‘Police Race Action Plan: Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board Annual Report’ highlights how the structure of the Race Action Programme too closely follows the structure of policing meaning that documented discrimination issues in the institution is likely to impact the Programme. The report argues that, without a change in structure, the Police  Race Action Plan will not aid in improving relations between Black communities and the Police. 

 

The annual report is published following Baroness Casey’s landmark report which found widespread misogyny, racism, and homophobia in the Metropolitan Police Service, and ahead of publication of reiteration of the Race Action Plan in upcoming months.  

Abimbola Johnson, Chair of the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board, said:

"Policing is at an important inflection point where nothing less than a genuine commitment to anti-racism is acceptable to Black communities and wider society. Pockets of enthusiasm and action do exist within policing, but this now requires elevation across the police service and properly embedded into the fabric of the institution. A far more robust Race Action Plan and Programme can achieve this and deliver on the commitments made by the police three years ago.”

Ahead of reiteration of the Plan, the report recommends: the reconfiguration of the Race Action Programme to better reflect an anti-racism programme; provision of adequate resourcing to the Plan; an increase in engagement with external stakeholders; the development and delivery of a clear communications strategy; tangible and measurable performance metrics; identification of clear areas of focus; and improvements to the flow of information to the Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board.

Andy George, President of the National Black Police Association, said:

"The National Police Chiefs' Council made a bold commitment over three years ago to deal with the ongoing issues of racism within policing. Since then, we have continued to see reports detailing abhorrent behaviour in service whilst seeing limited progress from the Police Race Action Plan to deliver a more fair and equitable service for our members and the communities we come from.”

 

“The Police Race Action Plan is our last chance to prove to the Black community that we are genuine in our desire to be a service we can all be proud of. There must be an urgent reset of the Plan, and we welcome the annual report from the ISOB detailing where improvements can be made."

Chief Constable Rachel Swann, NPCC Chiefs’ Council Vice Chair said:

“I would like to thank the ISOB board members for their insight presented in the annual report, and their continued hard work and dedication to scrutinising the activity undertaken by the central team and forces.

“The appointment of an Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board to the Police Race Action Plan is a first for a national UK policing programme and the value the board members bring to the Plan; providing specialist expertise, independent insight and scrutiny from professional Black voices, in order to improve our transparency and effectiveness, is intrinsic to the legitimacy of the Plan.

“Since being instated as Senior Responsible Officer in May, Chief Constable Gavin Stephens has collaborated with the ISOB board, stakeholders, the central programme team and forces, working to ensure the voices of Black stakeholders influence the Plan’s continued development. Chief Constable Stephens is committed to providing the voices of those who trust the police the least with the most opportunity to influence our direction.

“Much has been done by policing to address racism; policing is more inclusive, more diverse and more reflective of our communities than it has ever been. Equally, we acknowledge that racism still exists and there is much still to be done.

“We are proud that the Plan is ambitious, however it is not enough to just say we are not racist. Policing needs to evidence the changes achieved through the Plan to become an anti-racist organisation.

“We know reform is needed for policing to gain the trust and confidence of Black people and all other members of the public who feel marginalised. The commitment by all Chief Constables and senior leaders to provide an anti-racist police service remains unwavering.

“Commander Dr Alison Heydari will start in post as the Plan’s Interim Programme Director in the coming weeks. Dr Heydari brings 22 years of policing experience, and anti-racism expertise to her role.

“The views expressed in the report will influence the direction and development of the Plan and be considered in detail by Dr Heydari, Chief Constable Stephens and the central programme team.

“Through the Plan, innovative new ways of working have been implemented in forces in several areas to date including; A new system for recording and reporting vehicle stops has been adopted by over 50% of forces in the last six months, Officers engaging with young Black people through sport has seen improvements to relationships including better understandings, communication and engagement and Increased engagement with Independent Advisory Groups, by forces, to provide scrutiny and insight, resulting in increased, localised transparency of activity.  

“We must continue to work collaboratively and in new ways to achieve the action of the Plan. Gaining the trust and confidence of all our communities is in the best interest for policing, the best interest of the communities we serve, and those who give service as officers staff and volunteers.”

Steve Hartshorn, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said:

“I welcome the ISOB report and note the concerns raised about what is required to make the Police Race Action Plan a success, and the importance of building relationships with racialised communities to improve trust and confidence in policing and make lives better.”

Notes to Editors

About the about the Independent Scrutiny And Oversight Board

The Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board (ISOB) exists to provide overview and external scrutiny of the Police Race Action Plan. The ISOB is chaired by professional regulatory and criminal defence barrister, Abimbola Johnson.

The Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board Annual Report is available here.

About the Police Race Action Plan


Published in 2022, the Police Race Action Plan sets out the ambition of police chiefs in England and Wales to build an anti-racist police service and address race disparities affecting Black people working within or interacting with policing.

Contact Information

communications@policeisob.co.uk

ISOB STATEMENT ON THE BARONESS CASEY REVIEW FINAL REPORT

21st March 2023

“The findings of the Casey Review are damning and bring no comfort to the majority of Londoners who value the multi-cultural society we live in.”

“This Review confirms the concerns and observations that have consistently been raised by those dedicated to anti-racism work, particularly those who have called for solutions to have an intersectional lens: the Metropolitan Police Service is institutionally racist, homophobic, and misogynistic.” 

“The Metropolitan Police Service under-protects and over-polices Black communities; Black and brown officers and staff are subject to racism; its processes and systems manifest racism and bias; and overt racists continue to wear the Metropolitan police uniform.”

“We were struck by the repeated observations in the report that the most affected groups are greatly attuned to the extent of these issues which the Service has repeatedly denied and downplayed.”

“The Metropolitan Police Service must take seriously the damning observations that it is resistant to change; it does not listen to communities and external experts; and it shows an unwillingness to interrogate broader issues around race and systemic bias.”

“The police’s refusal to admit and take action on institutional issues will continue to undermine efforts to make policing fairer for all people, especially Black people. It makes initiatives like the MOPAC Race Action Plan and the National Police Race Action Plan ring hollow, both of which the Metropolitan Police has signed up to.”

 

“One in four police officers work for the Metropolitan Police Service, it holds national portfolio responsibilities, it polices a huge proportion of Black Britons. This is a policing issue and the response needs to be radical.”

ISOB STATEMENT ON “MISSING PEOPLE: THE ETHNICITY OF MISSING PEOPLE”

7th March 2023

“The findings and recommendations of the ‘Ethnicity of Missing People’ report by Missing People are directly relevant to the Police Race Action Plan’s commitment to ‘improve the police response and effectiveness in supporting missing persons from Black communities.” 

That Black people are over-represented both as missing individuals and in missing incidents, despite making up 4% of the UK population is a concern. Black children with mental health issues are less likely to be identified as being at risk; are missing for longer periods of time; are less likely to be found; and a contribution to this is the adultification of Black children by the police. This leaves one of our Black communities’ most vulnerable groups without the protection they require and at greater risk of exploitation and trafficking. 

“It is positive to see that the NPCC lead for missing people was involved in contributing to this report. However, we note with concern some forces that had not agreed to provide data. Ultimately this report is built on information already available to policing, showing once again that the police are often in possession of the evidence they need to push for change.”

“We commend the fact that this report was created in conjunction with organisations like Listen Up and Missing Black People to ensure that the voices and experiences of those directly affected by the stark statistics are reflected in their findings and recommendations. These are methods we have been pushing the Race Action Plan to adopt, particularly when considering how to prioritise and reiterate actions.”

“The police must deliver clear, robust and measurable results that will provide better outcomes for missing people from Black communities. In particular, the ‘Community Engagement’ and ‘Protection from Victimisation’ teams in the Race Action Plan must view this as a call to prioritise missing persons work and to deliver tangible change alongside communities. This has not been done so far.”

“We urge the Plan to work in a meaningful way with the report writers, and the others who contributed to this report in order to address these disparities. It is imperative for racially minoritised communities to be given the support they require when they are vulnerable.”

 

You can read the report here
 

CHAIR OF THE INDEPENDENT SCRUTINY AND OVERSIGHT BOARD RESPONDS TO POLICE RACE ACTION PLAN FEEDBACK REPORT

10th February 2023

The Police Race Action Plan Survey received a good number of responses. We have started to receive more regular updates about progress in the Plan and continue to provide constructive feedback. However, Plan and ISOB processes still need to improve: the information we receive varies in quality; Plan updates have not been made sufficiently public and as a Board our work is not as visible as it could be. This in turn makes it difficult for us to speak openly about the Programme; something we view as fundamental to our legitimacy.
 
The survey highlights that more ought to have been done to ensure higher response rates from Black/Black mixed heritage individuals and those under 35. This is a Plan focused on Black communities and young people, two groups who are the most likely to have contact with police, whether as victims, witnesses, or suspects.
 
Qualitative feedback with those groups in the ensuing period has been underwhelming and must be treated as a priority by the Programme. Genuine engagement with Black communities is needed as well as delivery - listening and responding with concrete change.

Our Recommendations to the Programme:-

  • The Police acknowledge and apologise for institutional racism; 
     

  • More visible leadership and commitment to the Plan from each of the 43 Chief Constables;
     

  • Public commitments are made to measurable targets and success measures that demonstrate tangible changes in policing as a result of this Programme. People want to see actual delivery;
     

  • Regular public updates are provided by the Race Action Programme to increase transparency and accountability, particularly from individuals with delivery responsibility;
     

  • The creation of a Race Action Plan website to increase visibility and accessibility of information;
     

  • The creation of an annual summit on race developed alongside police forces, communities, and specialist anti-racism organisations; and
     

  • The Programme reflects on why there was a significant proportion of respondents within policing who remain ‘undecided’ about the Plan. These represent groups who must be listened to in order to increase uptake of delivery of the anti-racist goals of the Plan.

What you can expect to see from the ISOB this year:-

  • We will publish our 2023 priorities by the end of February alongside our review of the work done by the Programme in 2022;
     

  • We recognise that we need to provide more frequent updates of what we see in the Programme. We are establishing a newsletter that we will publish at regular intervals throughout the year with substantive updates about our work, recommendations, and the meetings we have with the central programme team. This will also be posted on our website;
     

  • We have increased our own Board meetings to monthly intervals to keep abreast of progress against each of the workstream areas that individual ISOB members are tasked to monitor;
     

  • We will work to create more frequent regional and national accountability meetings with community members, organisations and police to facilitate direct conversations about Programme delivery; and
     

  • We are pressing for more visibility between the ISOB and the Chiefs’ Council, including a direct reporting relationship about plan progress that will need to be more publicly accessible.

ISOB STATEMENT ON CREST ADVISORY REPORT ON POLICING, STOP AND SEARCH AND THE PERSPECTIVES OF BLACK CHILDREN

1st December 2022

Abimbola Johnson, Chair of the Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board, said:


“We welcome Crest Advisory’s focus on one of our most vulnerable groups, children. The report is yet another reminder of the urgent need for the aims of the Police Race Action Plan to be prioritised and implemented by all 43 police forces across England and Wales.”


“Tackling disproportionate use of powers, adequate recognition of vulnerability, engaging with communities and better diversion of children away from the criminal justice system must be paramount to all 43 police forces. Many of the solutions lie outside of policing and we must ensure that Black children receive a sufficient level of welfare and support from non-punitive agencies.” 


“Much of the language around Black communities in this area asserts that we do not trust the police. What is often missing is the key observation that police tactics reveal their own lack of trust in Black communities, particularly towards our children and young people. Black children are over-policed whilst being under-protected. The report reflects the fact that they experience higher levels of trauma inflicted by the police and their vulnerability is not as readily recognised as their white peers."


“A multi-faceted approach is required to deal with the causes of these harms and distrust. Safeguarding Black children and their diversion away from the criminal justice system must be at the centre of all police interactions.”

Read the report here

METROPOLITAN POLICE TO DISMANTLE 'RACIST' GANGS MATRIX AFTER LANDMARK LEGAL CHALLENGE

8th November 2022

The Metropolitan Police Service has agreed to overhaul its Gangs Violence Matrix, admitting that the operation of the database was unlawful, after a landmark legal case brought by Liberty on behalf of Awate Suleiman and UNJUST UK. 

The Metropolitan Police has admitted that the Matrix, which was used to identify those at risk of committing, or being a victim of, gang-related violence in London, breached the right to a private and family life. Personal data of those on the Matrix is shared broadly with third parties – putting them at risk of over-policing, school exclusion, eviction, and in some cases being stripped of welfare benefits, deportation or even children being taken into care.

The Metropolitan Police have also accepted that Black people are disproportionately represented on the Matrix and that efforts to address this have not worked, with the latest review of the Matrix showing that 80% of those named on the Matrix were Black.

Liberty challenged the legality of the Matrix on behalf of Awate Suleiman and UNJUST UK, a community interest company challenging injustice in the criminal justice system, on the grounds that it discriminates against Black people, who are disproportionately represented on the Matrix.
 

Andy George, President of the National Black Police Association, said: "The National Police Chiefs' Council made a bold commitment over three years ago to deal with the ongoing issues of racism within policing. Since then, we have continued to see reports detailing abhorrent behaviour in service whilst seeing limited progress from the Police Race Action Plan to deliver a more fair and equitable service for our members and the communities we come from.”

 

“The Police Race Action Plan is our last chance to prove to the Black community that we are genuine in our desire to be a service we can all be proud of. There must be an urgent reset of the Plan, and we welcome the annual report from the ISOB detailing where improvements can be made."

Notes to Editors

 

About the about the Independent Scrutiny And Oversight Board

The Independent Scrutiny and Oversight Board (ISOB) exists to provide overview and external scrutiny of the Police Race Action Plan. The ISOB is chaired by professional regulatory and criminal defence barrister, Abimbola Johnson.

The Independent Scrutiny & Oversight Board Annual Report is available here.

About the Police Race Action Plan


Published in 2022, the Police Race Action Plan sets out the ambition of police chiefs in England and Wales to build an anti-racist police service and address race disparities affecting Black people working within or interacting with policing.

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