Greater Manchester Police has today published its 2021 Achieving Race Equality Report following a progress update presented to the Greater Manchester Race Equality Panel.
The report - which was commissioned by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham - represents the culmination of a significant amount of work in developing, analysing and sharing information, data, discussion and observations in relation to the work of GMP.
It examines the use of police powers across communities, and presents a valuable opportunity to better understand how disproportionality affects different individuals and communities across Greater Manchester. It also explains what has been done to improve representation within the organisation.
The report does highlight disparities and further discussions are already underway with the GM Race Equality Panel, local community representatives and partner agencies on how these can be addressed. More specifically, it highlights some disproportionality in the use of police powers against minority communities, particularly within black communities, in comparison with their white counterparts.
Independent analysis carried out by Gavin Hales, a Senior Associate Fellow of the Police Foundation, seeks to understand this disproportionality, and his findings are included within the report.
The scrutiny of GMP's workforce data between March 2014 and March 2021 shows a significant improvement in increasing representation within the organisation. This includes figures that show the number of police officers from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities has doubled from 4.5% to 9% due in part to the significant investment by the force in strategic recruitment.
Although steady progress has been made in terms of improving representation throughout the rank structure, the workforce data shows that there is still work to be done in this area and also in terms of retention of staff from under-represented backgrounds.
The report will assist the GM Race Equality Panel in its ongoing process of discovery which recognises the disproportionality and disparity that occurs across the holistic range of education, attainment, health, social care and life expectancy.
In assisting the panel, the report contains details of the action GMP is taking to address disproportionality. This includes working with valued Independent Advisory Groups, establishing new community scrutiny panels in each district, improved governance and oversight, and work with local community representatives.
Chief Constable Stephen Watson QPM said, "It matters greatly that the GMP I lead is representative of all the communities of Greater Manchester, which means our workforce should reflect the population we serve. The positive action we have been taking in recruitment and the national Police Uplift programme gives us a great opportunity to recruit new officers who truly represent the diversity of Greater Manchester.
"This report represents a significant amount of work, by both colleagues and key members of various Greater Manchester communities. However, I intend that this report not be seen or read in isolation. I have already reported on achieving race equality to the Greater Manchester Race Equality Panel, and been open and frank on the work we have to do to improve GMP with the implementation of a new Force Delivery Plan. We have much more to do with partners across Greater Manchester to understand the root causes of inequalities.
"It is a fact that clear disparities exist in and between communities. These result in disparities in all public services which stem from inequalities in housing, health, education and employment. We will seek to work with the GM Race Equality Panel, a range of partner agencies and communities themselves in providing the sort of positive and practical support that might add impetus to the efforts of those determined to make a difference.
"Police powers such as stop and search, Taser® and power of arrest are important and effective tools in our efforts to keep communities safe, and our engagement with the public tells us that they are supportive of their use when they are used appropriately and proportionately. I recognise that when not done properly, their use can divide and undermine confidence in policing so it is important we explain our actions and be directly accountable for them.
"In addition to the independent community scrutiny panels that we are in the process of establishing in each district, I also propose to launch a neighbourhood policing consultation to garner a clearer insight into that which communities want from their local policing teams."
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester Police is entering a new era and it needs to be one defined by greater openness and more accountability to the communities it serves. This report, which will be updated on a regular basis, is about starting a new conversation and rebuilding trust.
“This report will cause concern in a number of communities in Greater Manchester and it is important that those concerns are addressed. That’s why I and the Deputy Mayor will continue to work closely with the Chief Constable and the GM Race Equality Panel that I set up to improve the situation.
"Today’s report gives us the opportunity to have open and honest conversations about what we need to do to ensure that communities are treated fairly while allowing our police to tackle crime and keep all of our communities safe.”
Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice, Bev Hughes, added: “This report shines a light on the issues our communities have been voicing their concerns about and now that we have clear Greater Manchester-specific evidence, we must address it. I’m pleased the Chief Constable has immediately focused on this as one of his priorities, has committed to a range of measures in response including staff training and scrutiny over the use of force, and is himself leading and over-seeing the changes needed.
“It’s also important that our police service reflects the communities it serves and I’m pleased to see significant improvements in the diversity of the workforce. I accept more needs to be done, particularly in ensuring that women and under-represented groups also progress to positions of leadership throughout the organisation but I have confidence the new GMP leadership will drive this forward.”