As a firm, we have had many discussions about Black Lives Matter and how we can make a difference to the movement. In the fifth blog in our series, Tom looks at whether a lack of diversity is really that important in the police and how bringing greater diversity to the police will make meaningful strides towards a police workforce that is free of racial bias and discrimination. In case you missed it, this is part two of this blog. You can view part one here.
Why does policing need diversity?
Is a lack of diversity really that important? Does it matter whether an officer is White or Black when their job is to impartially enforce the law and protect the public? Sir Robert Peel founded the Metropolitan Police in 1829 and set out his ‘Principles of Law Enforcement’. These principles form the constitutional basis of ‘policing by consent’ in the UK, distinct from ‘law enforcement’ as it exists in the USA, for example. Peel’s connections to the slave trade through his father are problematic and are worthy of a separate discussion, but this does not tarnish the significance of his principles. Returning to these principles helps to explain why a lack of police diversity creates a lack of police legitimacy, making the police less effective. Principles 2 and 7 are most relevant here.
2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behavior (sic) and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect.
7. The police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare.
A 2004 study in Indianapolis (Indiana) and St. Petersburg (Florida) in the USA found that, of police officers working in predominantly Black neighbourhoods, Black officers were more likely than White officers to provide information, referrals to other agencies, and to treat residents respectfully. Various studies have shown that people are more likely to assist the police with tackling crime in their neighbourhood if they perceive the police to be legitimate. These findings have been echoed by the President of the UK’s National Black Police Association, Tola Munro, who has suggested that a lack of diversity makes policing less effective, by hindering true police community engagement, reducing information flows, encouraging distrust and lowering confidence in the police to reduce crime and keep people safe.
What can I do about these issues?
Bringing greater diversity to the police will make meaningful strides towards a police workforce that is free of racial bias and discrimination. Here are some things you can do to help achieve this:
- Acknowledge your own racial bias, conscious and unconscious, rather than simply standing in judgment on high-profile events and making virtue signalling statements. That means acknowledging your links to the past, being honest about your biases and interrogating your prejudices to recalibrate the effect they have on your decision making.
- Acknowledge the racism and brutality that has existed within the police and educate yourself on the events and individuals in this narrative. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Suggestions of places to start: the killing of Mark Duggan and the London riots in 2011, the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and the MacPherson Report in 1999, the killing of Cynthia Jarrett in 1985 and the Broadwater Farm riots that ensued; the wrongful convictions of the Oval Four in 1972, the killing of David Oluwale in 1969 (the last time a police officer was successfully prosecuted for a death in custody in the UK). There are many others.
- If you work in police recruitment, police forces need to remove stages from their recruitment assessment process that disadvantage BAME applicants.
- If you work in a police force, police officers and civilian staff at all ranks need to make sure they continue to support BAME employees. For example, BYP Network has written an article here with eight things corporations can do to support their Black employees.
- Demand reform by engaging directly with the police. Apply to work for or volunteer with your local police force, join a stop-and-search community monitoring group and attend neighbourhood watch meetings. Mentor and encourage friends and family, particularly from BAME communities, to do the same.
Be a voice for change.
our Black Lives Matter / Bame Blog series
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.
About the author
Tom Surr is the Head Paralegal in the Criminal Litigation Department of Kingsley Napley. He is a former police officer, having served in the Met Police for just over two years as the Dedicated Ward Officer for the ward of Kilburn in North-West London.
He left the police to pursue a career in law, working briefly in the Crown Prosecution Service’s Extradition Unit as a paralegal before joining Kingsley Napley. He is passionate about police reform and improving society’s understanding of policing and police officers.
Diversity Matters Team
Latest blogs & news
Kingsley Napley wishes our Muslim Community Eid Mubarak as Eid al-Adha is celebrated around the world.
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.
Three years on, the UK Government is still ‘’dragging its feet’’ about banning gay conversion therapy.
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.
"They will say I’m pushing an agenda. But the truth is, I am.” - The rise of queer artists and the importance of visibility
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.
According to Diversity UK, in 2018 roughly 13.8% of the UK population was from a minority ethnic background and 40% of the population in London were from the Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) background.
Kingsley Napley had the pleasure of hosting an evening with Spark Inside. The charity coaches prisoners and advocates for change within the criminal justice system. Please read on to find out what we learnt and how you can help.
Universities UK (“UUK”) has published a new set of recommendations designed to decisively tackle racial harassment as part of wider efforts to address racial inequality in the higher education sector.