Black Livelihoods Matter – Getting your recruitment right
The police currently have the power to stop and search citizens across the UK under a wide range of legislative acts for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime. For years, this has been one of the most controversial and contentious police powers, with the promise of extending the powers regularly being used as the go-to rallying call for politicians who want to show that they are being ‘tough on crime’.
Misinformation about the tactic itself is rife, notably the Home Secretary made claims in December 2019 about how many murders in London are prevented per week by stop and search despite this being impossible to prove.
What has been proven however is that stop and search powers are consistently being used disproportionately against black and Asian communities in England and Wales.
The figures are stark: you are 8.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black than if you are white. If you are Asian you are around 2.5 times more likely to be searched than a white person.
In the abstract, stop and search may seem like a perfectly reasonable power for police to have but in reality its application has shown that it is used disproportionately against black and Asian communities and is ultimately ineffective at reducing crime.
Police in England and Wales have a variety of powers to stop and search. Broadly speaking, these can be categorised into one of two groups.
On the one hand there are those that require officers to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ before conducting a search, the most well-known and widely used being:
The requirement for ‘reasonable suspicion’ is extremely important as it means that officers are required to be able to demonstrate that there were objective factors which made them think that the person they searched was likely to have been involved in a crime or carrying a prohibited item.
Stopping someone on the basis of their race alone is expressly prohibited in the PACE Code A Code of Practice which states:
‘Reasonable suspicion can never be supported on the basis of personal factors alone without reliable or supporting intelligence or information or some specific behaviour by the person concerned. For example, a person’s age, race, appearance or the fact that the person is known to have a previous conviction, cannot be used alone or in combination with each other as the reason for searching that person. Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on generalisations or stereotypical images of certain groups or categories of people as more likely to be involved in criminal activity.’
On the other hand, there are powers that do not require such suspicion, most notably section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (s60), intended to prevent acts of serious violence; and section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (s44, since repealed) intended to prevent acts of terror. These are highly controversial as they allow the police to stop and search individuals in certain situations and they do not have reasonable suspicion at all.
Measuring the effectiveness of stop and search is extremely difficult as there is remarkably little evidence to suggest that stop and search works either as deterrent or as an investigatory power. In a paper published by the British Journal of Criminology, which looked at 10 years of police, crime and other data sources from London it was found that: ‘the effect of stop and search on crime is likely to be marginal, at best. While there is some association between stop and search and crime (particularly drug crime), claims that this is an effective way to control and deter offending seem misplaced.’
A report by the College of Policing in 2014 concluded that increased powers were only “occasionally followed by very slightly lower rates of crime,” while also noting that these correlations were “inconsistent” and “weak.”
The police have also justified its use by arguing that it ‘disrupts and deters criminal activity’ but a Home Office study of the effectiveness of stop and search estimated that searches reduced the number of ‘disruptable’ crimes by just 0.2 per cent. It also found that while a very high proportion of stop and searches were carried out on the basis of suspicion of possession of drugs, it was unlikely that searches made a substantial contribution to undermining drug related crime. Given that drug searches tend to focus on users rather than dealers, and cannabis rather than class A drugs, its contribution to this aspect of crime reduction is questionable at best.
The reason for the disproportionate use of stop and search on black and Asian individuals appears to be complex, ranging from stereotyping, implicit and institutional bias to the political, social and economic positions of different groups in society. What is clear is that people from certain minority groups are considerably more likely than others to be stopped, with often very significant implications for themselves and the communities they are part of.
The most comprehensive analysis of the disproportionate use of stop and search under PACE was published in 2010 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission which concluded “the evidence indicates that PACE may be being used in a discriminatory and unlawful manner.” It also examined many of the common justifications for the disproportionate impact and found that “even taken together, they provide no justification for the extent and persistence of the problem.”
The experience of those being searched is directly associated with reduced confidence in the police, particularly when it is felt that these searches are being carried out on the basis of racial profiling. The damaging impact that the use of searches has in the communities in which the police serve was explored in the Criminal Justice Alliance paper ‘No respect: Young BAME men, the police and stop and search’ which found that three quarters of young BAME people think that they and their communities are targeted unfairly by stop and search. It also found that the feelings derived from negative experiences of stop and search can have long term effects, including anger and hostility towards the police. It is arguable that this clearly outweighs whatever marginally positive impact that these measures are said to have on reducing certain crimes.
There is no clear or easy solution to redress the imbalance of the use of stop and search across racial groups. It is generally accepted that the public are supportive of stop and search powers if they are used lawfully and appropriately, in a way which maintains public trust and police legitimacy. The evidence shows that this is currently not the case and there must be recognition of the problem at leadership level. The government and police must recognise that there is a racial bias and make a commitment to eliminate it.
Unfortunately, despite little evidence to prove that it is effective and considerable evidence that it is used disproportionately, extending stop and search powers remain high up the government’s agenda. The Prime Minister has defended the use of stop and search and pledged new police powers to extend stop and search in a bid to ‘crackdown’ on knife crime. What is becoming increasing clear is that this is nothing more than irresponsible political grandstanding. The Prime Minister’s continued rejection of an evidence-based approach to policing means that any extension to stop and search powers is likely to increase the unjustified profiling and harassment of black and Asian individuals.
As a firm, we have had many discussions about Black Lives Matter and how we can make a difference to the movement. We wanted to do more than just put out a statement of support, we wanted to take substantive action to address the inequalities faced by Black people and other ethnic minorities. Over the coming weeks, we will be publishing a series of blogs from our varying practice areas highlighting what we are doing, how you can make a difference and shining a light on the issues.
Our Diversity and Inclusion group is working hard with Human Resources and the Management Team to effect change through methods such as training and reviewing recruitment practices. We have implemented a lot of change but we recognise we have more to do and we are always looking to make improvements as a firm. We all have respective roles to play in advocating for issues of inequality and we hope our blogs give you some inspiration as to how you can make a change.
Maeve is an Associate in the Criminal Litigation team. She has represented clients on a wide range of general crime matters including road traffic, public order, allegations of serious violence and both historical and current sexual offences. She is instructed on cases ranging from the initial stages of criminal investigations through to trials, including working on a number of Crown Court matters since qualification.
A question that emerges for Black people all over Britain every October is “How can I celebrate the stories of those that have come before me?” In contrast the question that naturally comes to mind for those who are not of Black origin is “If I’m not Black how do I participate in Black History?” Whilst the questions appear to be different there is a common theme – both query how people can do Black History month justice, both have a desire to adequately celebrate a rich history that means so much to so many. But rest assured you should feel comfortable and welcome to celebrate the history of another culture.
Celebrating this year’s Black History Month (BHM) with is powerful campaign, “Proud to Be”, is an apt time for us all to consider why we (should) care about Black history and culture.
When Black History Month was established in the United States, over a century ago, it was intended as a way to celebrate and give national recognition to black stories and perspectives.
At Kingsley Napley, we believe in the power of diverse and representative stories and we have found some wonderful and effective ways to share them that you might like to try too.
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.
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