After implementing a new Race Action Plan in 2022, Thames Valley Police (TVP) were awarded a Race Equality Matters bronze status. Bronze status means a force has taken significant steps to make a meaningful impact on tackling race inequality within the organisation. TVP was the first police force in the UK to get such an award- but has it done enough to deserve it? Is it really meeting the strict new standards it set itself regarding equality?
Data released by the government on TVP's stop and search figures shows that, whilst the force has made improvements in disparity between those belonging to white backgrounds and the BAME community, it still has some way to go in transparency in its methods and fully implementing its new action plan.
Improvements in stop and search disparities
March 2023 marked the TVP’s fairest use of stop and search powers to date, with people from black backgrounds making up 11% of stop and searches, compared to 17% during the 2019/20 financial year.
Changes still to be made
During an internal stop and search meeting in February, one Officer said the
‘strategic aim is not to get disproportionality to zero. We will always have disparity if we are effectively policing to keep our communities safe’.
He gave the explanation that some areas within Thames Valley have organised crime groups that are from a black background, which would make the disparity ‘acceptable’. Whilst this does sound like the force is trying to balance being aware of its biases whilst still effectively policing its area, it could also be hiding an unwillingness to change behind a veil of legitimacy.
it was also brought up during the meeting that some Officers were failing to record ethnicity during stop and searches. It’s possible that this missing data could be hiding discriminatory behaviour, and until TVP improves its collection of data, we won’t know if it is meeting the standards it has set itself in its Race Action Plan.