Stop and Search: can we continue to justify the use of this police power?
Recent events around the globe have made the reality of racial inequality in society feature at the forefront of media coverage, political discussion and social consciousness, but the effect of this inequality has been felt by those in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community long before this. It has become clear that there is a lot of work to be done to address these inequalities in every aspect of society and Covid-19 has demonstrated that significant progress must be made in the healthcare sector to protect patients and healthcare workers from a BAME background.
A report published by Public Health England in June 2020 found that BAME patients were between 10% and 50% more likely to die as a result of contracting Covid-19 than patients from a white British background. This is an alarmingly high rate and has attracted (some) media attention as a result.
Part of this disparity could be impacted -by other socioeconomic factors relevant to Covid-19 such as the larger average household size of BAME families compared with white families. However, those socioeconomic factors do not in themselves explain the significantly higher fatality rate for BAME patients. One must therefore question whether the material issue again falls back to the poorer experience BAME people have within the healthcare system. It appears that much of this inequality is due to other long-standing issues around unconscious bias and the clinical care provided to BAME patients more generally.
For example, it has been clear for some time that there are stark racial inequalities in the statistics around BAME women suffering fatal complications during childbirth when compared with their white counterparts. Reports produced by MBRRACE-UK since 2014 have found that black women are five times more likely to die during childbirth than white women. Asian women and women of mixed ethnicity are two and three times more likely respectively to suffer fatal complications during childbirth than white women.
Crucially, a report produced by Nuffield Department of Population Health and the University of Oxford suggest that the quality of maternity care provided to BAME mothers could have contributed to these statistics. The report found that BAME mothers experienced longer hospital stays, were less likely to receive pain relief during labour and received fewer home visits from midwives than white women.
Further, accounts provided by midwives and nursing staff have reported incidents of unconscious bias. This includes occasions where white medical staff have commented on a BAME patient’s pain threshold being relative to their ethnicity or assumed that BAME patients lack English skills and as such, cannot make informed decisions in relation to their medical care. One must question whether an ability to speak English, if that is indeed a factor rather than a presumption, is a pre-requisite to being able to communicate pain or make assisted decisions about healthcare.
The issue around the perception of BAME patients and how this impacts the medical care they receive is also reflected in the story of Serena Williams’ experience during childbirth when she suffered serious complications as a result of a pulmonary embolism (a potentially life-threatening condition which involves a blocked blood vessel in a patient’s lungs). Serena Williams has stated that after delivering her child, she raised concerns regarding experiencing shortness of breath, which she knew was a symptom of a pulmonary embolism as she had experienced this condition as part of her medical history. However, she was perceived as being ‘confused’ due to her pain medication even though she had clearly stated that she knew she required a CT scan with contrast and a blood thinner. It was only after Serena Williams repeated this a number of times that a CT scan with contrast was completed, confirming that she had several blood clots in her lungs, and she was subsequently provided with blood thinners.
There is no question that Serena Williams is one of the most accomplished athletes in the world and a global icon. Yet, she was forced to advocate for herself repeatedly before her concerns were viewed as legitimate and acted on by her medical team. Despite her status, Serena Williams almost fell victim to the same issues that black women face within the healthcare sector and which lead to dangerous or life-threatening pregnancy-related complications.
This raises two questions. Firstly, how likely are other patients of a BAME background to have their concerns listened to and acted on appropriately? And secondly, how far does this issue contribute to the disproportionately high fatality rate of BAME patients?
Listening to a patient is one of the fundamental requirements of adequately diagnosing, treating and caring for them. The lessons learned from Covid-19 must therefore also include a wider discussion around the issue of racial inequalities in the healthcare setting and unconscious bias in diagnosis and treatment to ensure that the disproportionate risk to patients from a BAME background is addressed and rectified.
The visibility of the “B” in our LGBTQ+ umbrella is marked every year on 23 September. At Kingsley Napley, we are proud to have bisexual members of our LGBTQ+ and Allies Network and strive for everyone to feel like they can be themselves and bring their whole selves to work. Outside KN, and in this year alone, Robin has come out as bisexual in the new Batman comic, more awareness has been raised about bisexuality with celebrities, such as Megan Fox, Lily Cole, speaking out and there is more representation of bisexual people in mainstream shows, such as Sex Education, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
To mark Suicide Prevention Day and raise awareness of the prevalence of deaths by suicide in the UK, Kingsley Napley is set to host a mental health panel discussion on 10 September 2021.
On the 28 July 2021, the Government unveiled the highly anticipated National Disability Strategy (‘the strategy’). Pledged in the Government’s 2019 manifesto, the aim is to “improve the everyday lives of disabled people”. The Prime Minister described the strategy as the most comprehensive, concerted, cross-government plan relating to disability ever. A bold claim, but is it justified?
Whilst our Muslim colleagues and friends celebrate over communal meals and prayer, it is also a time for us at Kingsley Napley to reflect on the importance of observing and respecting the cultural and religious differences of others. We are motivated to make Kingsley Napley a place which is not only diverse, but also inclusive, where all our people feel able to bring their true selves to work.
When I told some of my friends I was writing a piece about drag activism, their reaction was almost unanimous…
"Oh, but, is there much to say?"
That's when I realised that drag queens, for many, are more synonymous with big hair and lip-syncing pop hits rather than political consciousness and activism. You can certainly understand the reason for this - we have been totally spoiled in recent years with the explosion of Ru Paul’s Drag Race around the world - the make-up, talents and confidence being a feast for the eyes (and the soul). But we cannot minimise the political importance of Mama Ru’s creation. Who could forget numbers such as “Shady Politics”; the discussions of gay conversion therapy while applying make-up; and Bob the Drag Queen describing his arrest during a 2011 marriage equality protest? Not to mention Nancy Pelosi sashaying into the All Stars season…
Coming out is an extremely personal journey and will be unique to each person. It takes a lot of courage to come out and a person may have to repeatedly do this in their personal and professional lives. Statistics show that 46% of people who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual and 47% of people who identify as trans feel comfortable to discuss their orientation or gender identity.
How can you put the spotlight on intersectionality to remind others that, even within the LGBTQ+ community, not everyone is treated equal?
Are you proud of who you are, your journey and the person that you’ve become? Do you truly wear your heart on your sleeve? For some, being open and honest about who we are (which includes our gender identity or sexuality) does not come easily and can be extremely hard. It can be even tougher at work, and for those that hide their true self, the energy expenditure is endless. That survival cost of energy makes you less productive, or even worse still, it has a detrimental impact on your mental and physical health.
I am a trans woman who has recently embarked on her transition. Having only taken my first steps on this journey, I am acutely aware when writing this that I have much to learn about myself, about being trans, and about the diverse LGBTQ+ family that I now find myself part of. However, there is one theme that I feel is important to discuss as we celebrate Pride in 2021.
Following on from my colleague Sameena Munir’s blog ‘’pray the gay away: cull conversion therapy worldwide’’, the issue of gay conversion therapy dominates contemporary conversations surrounding LGBT politics and legislation in the UK, but the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to ban it.
For two weeks during Pride month, Kingsley Napley are publishing a series of blogs to celebrate Pride and highlight LGBTQ+ issues from home and abroad.
It’s been 9 years since R&B artist Frank Ocean headed off rumours about his particular pronoun usage in the album Channel Orange by posting on Tumblr that his first love had been a man. Since then, the momentum for the openness and success of queer artists has continued to gather pace, and LGBTQ+ representation in the arts and mainstream media is as wide as it has ever been. This rise has however raised important questions about pigeonholing queer artists, and perhaps most interestingly whether they must always shoulder the responsibility of ‘pushing the agenda’.
In February this year, I attended a virtual talk held by the InterLaw Diversity Forum for LGBT+ History Month. The speakers featured individuals working in the legal sector and each discussed their experience of coming out as trans or non-binary at work. It feels an apt lesson given this year’s Pride theme: Visibility, Unity and Equality.
In January 2020, I was fortunate enough to give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. As far as I know, I am the first partner at Kingsley Napley (although certainly not the first employee) who has a baby who is lucky enough to have two mums. News of my pregnancy was met with overwhelming support from my colleagues. That support continues to this very day, and my wife and I remain truly grateful for the kindness that has been shown to us. However, since falling pregnant I have learnt that not all workplaces are as supportive to same-sex parents as mine. The concept of two mums or two dads starting a family is something that some people still struggle to get their heads around. So this year, for our KN Pride blog series, I have decided to explain the questions, that speaking from my own experience, it is not helpful to say to same-sex parents.
We have newly renamed our network to the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) group. Our REACH network is a space where we come together to work towards fostering and maintaining an inclusive workplace, where we can all reach our full potential without fear of discrimination.
Satvir Sokhi was recently invited to speak and take part in Leeds Beckett University’s Law Enrichment session which allowed a panel of ethnically diverse professionals to speak to students about our experiences with diversity and inclusion within the legal sector.
On this day each year, over 130 countries around the world seek to celebrate sexual and gender diversities and draw attention to the various forms of discrimination and violence that the LGBTQ+ community continue to experience.
There are various drivers forcing law firms to embrace a more diverse workforce and to attract, promote and retain talent from all backgrounds, regardless of gender, gender-identity, race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, age, and socio-economic class (to name but a few).
Following the tragic events of this week, I have thought back to the past two weeks and considered how my position might have been different if I was a woman. I now recognise just how incredibly ‘normal’ it has become for women to be warned against walking alone at night, which is something I have never had to consider as a man. This dichotomy between the experiences of men and women has been made clear by the reaction across traditional and social media.
Kingsley Napley continue to support International Women’s Day to help forge a more gender equal world. As a firm we pride ourselves on having a workforce made up of over 69% women, with more than 50% in the partnership. However, we know that much work still has to be done in the legal sector and beyond.
An urgent inquiry into systemic racism in the NHS and how it manifests itself in maternity care was launched yesterday. The Inquiry has been convened by Birthrights: an organisation dedicated to improving women’s experience of pregnancy and childbirth.
Today will see the start of the UK’s first Race Equality Week (an initiative “to unite organisations and individuals in activity to address issues affecting ethnic minority employees”). Whilst initiatives like this and, indeed, the UK’s first ever Ethnicity Pay Gap Day (8 January 2021) are very welcome and a cause for celebration and hope in relation to such matters, there is much work yet to be done on the issue of race equality and we cannot afford to be complacent. The ethnicity pay gap is one aspect of this that still needs to be addressed, despite the recent publicity around it and the increasing pressure on Government to take action.
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