UK nonprofit group INQUEST Monday reported that Black men are 7 times more likely to die than their white counterparts following the use of restraint by police. INQUEST says that its findings highlight the continued “reality of institutional racism” in the UK criminal justice system. The report pointed to the recent deaths of three Black men, Chris Kaba, Oladeji Omishore and Godrick Osei, as a “reminder of the urgency of the action needed.”
INQUEST’s analysis of unpublished official data from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found that the categorisation of certain deaths is “obscuring” the extent of racial disproportionality. Often the deaths of Black people following police contact are categorised as “other deaths following police contact” instead of deaths “in or following police custody.” INQUEST says that this makes the annual number of deaths in custody “appear lower than the reality.”
The IOPC recommended that an officer be “reminded” of the standards of professional behaviour in only one case from 2015 to 2021. INQUEST says investigators “simply take at face value the officers’ denial that race played a part in their actions.” Currently the IOPC only determines whether a tribunal “could” find that the officer’s conduct amounted to misconduct. INQUEST’s analysis demonstrates that there has been “no real progress” following the watchdog’s acceptance of institutional racism.
The report also critically reveals patterns arising from death that evidence racist stereotypes of Black men from police, which it says are not substantially scrutinised, equating them with dangerousness and criminality. INQUEST highlights that this is an ongoing issue. However, in 2021, the UK Home Office claimed that Black men are not more likely to die in custody cases where use of force or restraint is present.
Director of INQUEST Deborah Coles highlighted that the “stark” evidence shows “institutional racism is embedded in police culture.” She warned that the failure to examine the potential role of race in deaths involving police “render racism invisible…and prevents justice, accountability and change.”