Civitas - A response to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report – The Macpherson Report: Twenty-two years on
Following the Home Affairs select committee’s recent report, The Macpherson Report: Twenty-two years on and its inquiry into the impact of the 1999 Macpherson report, this recent response by the Director of the Statistics and Policy Research Programme at Civitas, Richard Norrie, finds the committee’s report ‘strikes a downbeat and pessimistic tone’.
Richard Norrie’s response presents a critique of the report by ‘examining the foundations for its pessimism’.
Confidence in police
Where the select committee report concludes that there still persists a ‘confidence gap’ particularly among ‘black communities’ and presents data to show that confidence and trust in the police are lower among black people, Richard Norrie finds that:
‘While this is true overall, these figures should not be accepted without reservation. It is acknowledged as well as strongly underplayed in the report that this is largely found among black Caribbean people.’
‘Data from the Ethnicity Facts and Figures website show that in 2019/20, 64 per cent of black people expressed confidence in their local police, compared to 74 per cent of white British. However, among black Caribbean people, the share is 54 per cent compared to 69 per cent of black African.’
‘The confidence deficit can further be attributed to middle class and young black individuals, particularly students.’
Ethnic composition of the police
‘The select committee report presents a gloomy overview of the advance of ethnic minorities in the police force, and not entirely without reason.’
Norrie points to ‘one important oversight, namely data on aptitude tests.’
‘Data obtained from the College of Policing show that the shares of ethnic minority people taking the tests have been proportionate to their shares of the country’s population’, he argues.
Disparity in police disciplinary procedures
In response to the select committee further finding ethnic minority police officers were more likely to be subject to disciplinary processes and more likely to be fired, the author calls on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate this further.
What is the difference between ‘positive action’ and ‘positive discrimination’?
On the distinction drawn by the select committee between ‘positive action’, defined as measures to encourage minority candidates, and ‘positive discrimination’, which includes measures to force ethnic diversity through discriminating in the favour of ethnic minority individuals, Richard Norrie finds that ‘the distinction becomes increasingly blurred’.
‘What court of law would not deem a target backed by sanctions for non-compliance, to be a quota? Why is a parliamentary select committee, in effect, advocating setting the police on a collision with the courts?’
‘The risk is that in response to government pressure, police start appointing those who would otherwise fail to make the cut. This would meet the target/quota but would put poor candidates into positions of responsibility in matters, sometimes of life and death.’
‘Race is not a qualification, but rather a group characteristic. We wish to appoint on individual merit and suitability and nothing more.’
‘The report is based largely on the testimony of senior police officers, individuals associated with the Macpherson report and the Lawrence case, government officials, and civil society organisations that tend to have a leftist worldview on race. There is no evidence of any of the prominent critics of Macpherson being solicited for advice…’
Disparity in stop and search
The author of this report identifies:
‘As a general rule, low probabilities in an event occurring tend to entail high disparity in relative terms, when comparing groups.’
‘Today, stop and search is less frequently used and black people are much less likely to experience it, despite increases in more recent years. The absolute difference relative to white people has shrunk substantially.’
‘Generally, as things get better, the probability of an event will drop, meaning an inevitable growth in relative disparity between any two groups. That this is presented as a worsening of policing, without qualification, is highly dubious.’
Disproportionate to what?
The author suggests:
‘It can be argued that ethnic minority individuals are more likely to be stopped and searched because they are more likely to be available in those places where the tactic is carried out.’
‘Another argument is that we should benchmark the minority stop and search rate against the share of ethnic minority individuals involved in crime. The select committee notes that ‘BAME people represent 41 per cent of London’s population but make up 59 per cent of homicide victims and 78 per cent of those charged with homicide’. Thus, 80 per cent of stop and searches in London happening to people other than white, is arguably defensible.’
‘Even if there were no discrimination by police, which I by no way rule out, there would still be disproportionate outcomes.’
Looking across many other areas, including the efficacy of stop and search and hate crime statistics, Richard Norrie indicates that ‘What Macpherson has done is fuelled an endless obsession with disparity as though it were only and ever the result of bad behaviour of white people, and not something both reasonable to expect but hard to understand empirically.’
Latest News from
The King's Fund - British Social Attitudes: Survey reveals record level of dissatisfaction with social care services27/03/2023 15:20:00
Only one in seven of the British public are satisfied with social care services, according to analysis of the British Social Attitudes survey by the Nuffield Trust and The King’s Fund.
IEA - Laughing gas ban expands “disastrous war on drugs”27/03/2023 14:20:00
IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon comments on the government’s plan to outlaw nitrous oxide
IFS - The planned increase in the state pension age from 67 to 6827/03/2023 13:20:00
There are reports that the government will no longer increase the state pension age between 2037-39. We examine the key considerations for this delay.
‘Dystopian’ worker surveillance techniques likely to disproportionately affect young people, says IPPR27/03/2023 12:20:00
Worker surveillance practices are increasingly the new normal, despite their negative and discriminatory impact on employees, according to a new report from IPPR.
IPPR Scotland reacts to Minimum Income Guarantee Expert Group's interim report27/03/2023 10:15:00
Philip Whyte, director of IPPR Scotland reacts to Minimum Income Guarantee Expert Group's interim report
IPPR responds to inflation figure22/03/2023 15:15:00
Dr George Dibb, head of the Centre for Economic Justice at IPPR responds to the ONS CPI figures for February
IFS - Freeports: What are they? What do we know? And what will we know?13/03/2023 11:25:00
This report analyses the rationale for Freeports and what we can learn about their potential impact from past policies and a planned evaluation.
IEA - Chancellor must avoid growth-killing tax hikes13/03/2023 10:25:00
IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop commented on GDP figures for January 2023
IEA - Corporation Tax hike not the path to a competitive and compassionate Britain, says former SDP Leader13/03/2023 09:25:00
Writing for the Institute of Economic Affairs, former Foreign Secretary and Social Democratic Party Leader Lord David Owen argues that if Britain is to become both more competitive and compassionate then the Government needs to show the country is open for business.