The Peculiarities And Effects Of Racial Profiling In The UK

This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Cite this essay cite-image

The Greater London Authority’s analysis of the 2001 Census, ‘World in One City’ found people from 179 different nations living within London and The Guardian Newspaper praised it as ‘the most cosmopolitan place on earth’ (Vertovec, 2007, p. 1024). This resulted in British policy-makers producing a strategy called Multiculturalism, acknowledging the mass scale of immigration from the African Caribbean and South Asia and to implement strategies to ensure equality for ethnic minorities (ibid, p. 1027). However, this essay argues the stereotyping that Back et al explains about ‘Niggers’ relates not only to individuals who are ‘overlooked’, but marginalised (2009, p. 354-355). Referencing the educational performance and crime statistics (ibid), Frantz Fanon quoted ‘Dirty Nigger! or simply, Look, a Negro!’ (ibid, p. 354), believing that when these racist comments are not said ‘you can see it in a gaze or hear it in the solecism of a still silence’ (ibid). With that said there have been times when comments have been considered racist such as Enoch Powell’s ‘River of Blood Speech’ when he called immigrants ‘piccaninnies’, during the mass influx of immigrants to Britain and predicted violence to occur if continued (Youtube, Rivers of Blood Speech). Significantly violence did occur during the Brixton riots caused by racial disadvantage, and hate crimes have recently been exacerbated after the European Union (EU) Referendum.

Racial profiling has been coined as a form of racial stereotyping which exists not only in society but also in organisations and law enforcement agencies (Tanovich, 2004, pp. 908-909). Henry and Tator (2011, p. 66 citied in Chan, 2011) invoke the principle that ‘racism/racial profiling is to be judged primarily by its consequences in creating inequality for certain groups’ (p. 75) and has been acknowledged to exist in the United Kingdom (UK) (Tanovich, 2004, pp. 908-909). Findings have identified racialized characteristics, most notably in Black identities, that arouse police suspicion and led to them being stopped and search on foot and in cars. Factors that are considered suspicious to police officers include gender (male) and location. Officers who implement racial profiling use it as a display of overt racism towards identities that are considered by most people as ‘bad apples’ (ibid, p. 911). Therefore, racial profiling is considered a demonstration of ‘systematic racism’ (ibid, p. 912). Social science literature explains that individuals make assumptions about strangers based on stereotypes connected to the unknown group such as race, this grouping process is termed racialization. When the decision based on race has been made, they change their behaviour based on their cultural understanding. The police use their experience in past events to guide them for future policing which is why the police perceive the usual drug suspect as a young black male (ibid, pp. 913-914). Bou-Habib (2011) argues that racial profiling is unethical, providing the assumption that certain ethnic groups are unable to follow rule and law (p. 34).

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place an order

The Scarman Report highlighted the discriminatory use of power increased tensions between particular communities and the Criminal Justice System (CJS). In 1999, Black people were 5.9 times more likely to be stopped and searched than White people under powers contained within Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) (Burnett, 2012, p. 96). In 2011, Black people were nearly three times more likely to be stopped and searched under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 than White people, leading to accusations of increasing ‘racial profiling’ (ibid).Government statics revealed that more mixed-race people were victims of crime last year than white people and white offenders were sentenced to shorter custodial sentences than Black people in 2009 to 2017 (The Guardian, 2019). In 2017/18 there were 277,378 stop and search incidents conducted in England and Wales; furthermore in 2017/18, there were 3 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 29 stop and searches for every 1,000 Black people (GOV.UK, March 2019). However, there were 35 arrests for every 1,000 Black people, and 11 arrests for every 1,000 White people in 2017/18 (ibid). Black people had the highest arrest rates in every police force area for which there was data in 2016/17 (ibid). Moreover, it should be noted that the more a certain group is aimed at, the more likely criminality will be revealed. In the UK, legislation allows the police to detain and search individuals whom they suspect to be in possession of stolen goods. Stop and search power in the UK is much broader than the present powers in countries such as Canada (Tanovich, 2004, pp. 913-914). However, while Black people have been able to hold institutions to account for racism, there are still some ‘stubborn’ areas, which explains the increase in calls for stop and search to tackle knife crime (The Guardian, 2019).

The UK government have been seen over the years to marginalise the Black community. Despite the Scarman Report revealing racial disadvantage was the cause of the riots in 1981, Margaret Thatcher responded by condemning them as criminal activity and lawlessness (Small and Solomos, 2006, p. 245), along with rising crime and drug use, an increase in Black youth unemployment, and the ‘Thatcherite assault’ on welfare support (Hall, p. 189). However, while Lord Scarman claimed the police were not institutionally racist, (Small and Solomos, 2006, p. 245) he advised recommendations to improve policing on community and race issues, such as Racism Awareness Training. These proved to be inadequately implemented (Hall, p. 190). Suggesting the issues for the Black community were not taken seriously.

Furthermore, Black people, while having their grievances ignored by the police, have been subjected to many racial attacks such as during the campaign in the 1970s against ‘sus’ laws, and the setting fire of Michael Menson in 1997 (Hall, p.188). It was not until New Labour brought in vital measures to tackle racial discrimination with the Macpherson Report in 1999 (Small and Solomos, 2006, p. 25) conducted by Sir William Macpherson who stated that the police actions during the Stephen Lawerence murder were ‘institutionally racist’ (The Guardian, 2019). Macpherson defined institutional racism as ‘The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin’ identified through attitudes and behaviours which show prejudice towards them (HOC Home Office Committee, 2009, p. 6). This was disputed by the then-Metropolitan Police Commissioner (ibid). This term led to calls for anti-racism and reforms for equality to combat race riots, racist violence and the prejudice that was rife in Britain since the days of ‘no blacks, no dogs, no Irish’ (The Guardian, 2019).

The Home Office’s findings showed that 67 of Macpherson’s 70 recommendations have been implemented fully or in part by the police to combat racial and discrimination (HOC Home Office Committee, 2009, p. 2). Significantly, it led to the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and a change in the law on double jeopardy, which opened up the possibility of a retrial of some of the men strongly suspected to have been involved in the Stephen Lawrence murder, including Dobson, who was convicted (Burnett, 2012, p. 93). The changes have resulted in an improved reporting of hate crimes which has increased to 60,000 incidents a year, and the hate crime detection rate has doubled to 44% (HOC Home Office Committee, 2009, p. 3).

Despite this, Alfred John, the Chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), believes the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) continues to be institutionally racist as it continues to fail to recognise discriminatory behaviour in the service. Doreen Lawrence, the Chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association, citied the stop and search as an example of this (ibid, p. 6). Kapoor (2013) argues that New Labour encouraging ‘Community Cohesion’ can be viewed as a form of racial neoliberalism (p. 1033). In 2010 Prospect Magazine published a report titled ‘Rethinking Race’, which argued that racism was no longer so noticeable, although the increase in tracking required under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 has encouraged suspicion and fear of ethnic groups (ibid, p. 1031). Therefore, creating inclusion and social justice through policy making is unsuccessful (Bhopal, 2018, pp. 4-5).

Lammy Review (2017) is an independent review which was established to ‘make recommendations for improvement with the goal of reducing the proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME) offenders in the criminal justice system (CJS)’ (p.3). Young Black boys are more likely to be excluded from school and to be arrested as teenagers. However, findings have shown that contrast to a decade ago, fewer young people are offending, reoffending and going into custody. This was helped by the Youth Offending Team (YOTs) established by the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, to help reduce this problem (ibid, p.4). YOTs were set up to help offenders in the community to start new lives, although in the last 5 years 22,000 BAME children have had their names added to the Police National Database including minor offences which constrain their job opportunities (ibid, p. 5). The 55-page report, ‘Trapped in the Matrix’, highlights the MPSs gang-mapping database, The Gangs Matrix which was introduced in 2012 as ‘highly-politicised response’ to the 2011 London riots. Listing individuals as “gang nominals”, in October 2017, 3,806 people were listed on the Matrix, and 78% of individuals on the Matrix are black. One response from a Met Police officer stated that the ‘gang label’ is ‘disproportionately assigned to Black men and boys’ (Amnesty, 2018). Stafford Scott, from the London Monitoring Group, challenges racism in policing, arguing that the Gangs Matrix is counterproductive and further embeds distrust in, and the legitimacy of, the police (ibid).

Contributors have criticised the effectiveness of police power in tackling all crime, which if it was measured by arrest rate, was a ‘manifest failure’. This view was also echoed by a survey conducted by Black Training and Enterprise Group (Home Office, 2014, p. 9). Furthermore, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspection into the use of stop and search powers acknowledged that police officers were unable to demonstrate the best approach to use to prevent crime. Also, they could not explain what had been achieved from the use of stop and search (ibid, p. 10). Moreover, it has been acknowledged that stop and searches have created criminal offences, as individuals who are subjected repeatedly to stop and searches are likely to be arrested after becoming enraged (Williams, 2018, p. 7). Williams (2018) argues that the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime Report in 2016 revealed the serious need to combat violence in England and Wales. This however cannot be tackled through the ‘war against gangs’ that has been implemented through the ‘Ending Gangs and Youth Violence’ strategy, as it is largely unsuccessful (p. 27).

Police records for crime statics revealed an increase of 25% for the possession of a weapon offences in the year ending March 2018 compared to the previous year (Home Office, 2018, p. 12), indicating that the powers are effective in certain areas to tackle or prevent crime. Campaign groups have suggested that police officers use the powers in a sensitive manner to tackle ‘serious’ crime and violence as they warn the powers being used for low-level drug possession offences may damage community relations with the police (Home Office, 2014, p. 11). A survey of 4,920 had showed that Blacks were least likely to agree that stop and searches were effective (Home Office, 2014, pp.7- 8). All ages of non-whites showed issues of the discriminatory use of the powers (ibid, p. 9), believing they are deemed ‘deviant’ and are targets of ‘suspicion’ (The Guardian, 2018). Stops and searches under PACE 1984 has been in decline. This is due to the change in policy by MPS and the Home Office to increase the ‘fair’ use of powers (Boultwood, 2018). Furthermore, the government introduced a new scheme in 2014 called ‘Best use of stop and search’ to encourage transparency around how stops and searches happen and to identify the most effective time to use them (ibid).

In every one of the last 5 years, a lower percentage of Black Caribbean people said they had confidence in their local police compared with White people. 2017/18 showed that confidence in police by Black people was 76% compared to 78% for white people (GOV.UK, Dec 2018). Even though BAME make up 14% of the population, they represent 25% of prison population, while over 40% of young people in custody are from BAME backgrounds. This makes a greater disproportionality of Black people than in the United States (Lammy Review, 2017, p. 2). Despite the UK government prohibiting the use of racial profiling, the police have historically applied their power to stop and search citizens from ethnic minority groups (Travis, 2016, citied in 2017, p.549). The Independent Police Complaints Commission provided data of the number of Black citizens that expressed grievances about the police and their unfair tactics of policing towards them. In 2007/2008 a total amount of 5,156 complaints- the MET area received 979 of them. (Yesufu, 2013, p. 291). Black individuals who experience racial profiling are worried about the injustices and insecurity they feel, which leads to bad community relations with the police (Chan, 2011, p. 75). This occurred in London when violence erupted during the Brixton Riots in 1981, the Broadwater Farm Riots in 1985 and the burning and looting in 2011 (Yesufu, 2013, p. 281). This view was echoed by an interviewee explaining that the younger generation who had grown up and were born and raised in Britain, considered themselves British and were ‘not going to take the shit handed out to their parents’ (Youtube, River of Blood Speech). Lippert-Rasmussen explained that non-profiled groups are the cause of the unjust social circumstances that result in a higher offender rate of the profiled group. The social conditions they encounter such as unemployment, result in crime being more difficult to avoid. However, it is noted that the more advantaged in society have failed to alter these social conditions through public policies to tackle these higher offender rates (Bou-Habib, 2011, p. 37).

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Ministerial Council have repeatedly warned of the threat that hate crimes will pose on the security of individuals and to social cohesion, as well as their potential to lead to conflict and violence (OSCE, 2019). The continuance of racial inequalities in the UK were revealed in a report produced by the EHRC, finding an increase in race hate crimes in the last five years (Bhopal, 2018, pp. 9-10), especially after the UK voted to leave the EU (ibid). True Vision saw a 57% increase in the reporting of race crime in the 3 days after the vote, compared with to the previous month (ibid, p. 12). Despite it being a criminal offence under the Public Order Act of inciting racial or religious hatred in a speech or through behaviour (True Vision, 2019), the referendum gave individuals the right to voice prejudices and racism towards minority ethnic groups (Bhapol, 2018, p.12).

The Casey Review (2016) revealed that government has failed to be successful in its policies to get community cohesion. These policies first arose under the Labour Government after the riots in Northern towns. Several academics explained the key to successful integration is through providing economic advantages, a feeling of belonging to a community and to encourage social interaction. However, it has been noted that these issues are largely ignored by past successive Governments’ integration plans. The Coalition Government in 2012 attempted to address this issue with the policy of ‘Creating the conditions for integration’ (ibid, pp. 149-150). Although they had allocated only a small amount of funding towards projects such as ‘Big Lunch’, more is needed to combat this issue (ibid). Furthermore, it was noted that some interfaith work was ‘avoided’ and there was no initiative to tackle individuals that undermined cohesion (ibid).

To conclude, Keith (2005, p. 1, citied in Vertovec, 2007) explains that cities in the 21st century will be challenged by multiculturalism’ (p. 1050). In which statics evidence have shown some of the issues that have arisen are that Black communities are stopped and searched more and are on the National DNA Database and this has increased since 1999. They are also overrepresented in the CJS (HOC Home Affairs Committee, 2009, p. 7). Despite calls for reforms and integration the British government have done little to address these issues and to make the Black community feel included in society. However, while police continue to use ‘race’ as a tactic aimed at certain individuals for crimes, considered to be a ‘manifestation of systemic racism’ and unsuccessful as a preventer of crime, with negative effects on the targeted communities (Tanovich, 2004, p. 933). Which evidently has shown to led to violence over the years of ignorance by the government.


  1. Addo, F. (2018) Stop and search doesn’t work. Let’s end this exhausting debate. The Guardian [online], 13 November. Available from: (Accessed 4 April 2019).
  2. Amnesty International UK (2018) Met Police using 'racially discriminatory' Gangs Matrix database [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4 April 2019).
  3. Back, Les, and Solomos, John, eds. (2009) Theories of race and racism: a reader. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.
  4. BBC News (2009) Phillips clears police of racism, [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4 April 2019).
  5. Bhopal, K (2018) White Privilege. Great Britain: Policy Press.
  6. Booth, R. (2019) 'Institutional racism': 20 years since Stephen Lawrence inquiry. The Guardian [online], 22 February. Available from: [Accessed 4/4/2019].
  7. Bou-Habib, P. (2011) Racial Profiling and Background Injustice. J Ethics, 15: 33-46. DOI 10.1007/s10892-010-9091-x
  8. Boultwood, S. (2018) Stop and search in England and Wales [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4 April 2019).
  9. Burnett, J. (2012) After Lawrence: racial violence and policing in the UK. Race and Class. 54(1), 91 –98. Available from: [Accessed 4 April 2019].
  10. Burnett, J. (2017) Racial violence and the Brexit state. Institute of Race Relations: 58 (4), 85-97. Available from: [Accessed 4 April 2019].
  11. Casey, L., D. (2016) Casey Review: a review into opportunity and integration. London: Department for Communities and Local Government. Available from: Accessed [4/4/19].
  12. Chan, J. (2011) Racial Profiling and Police Subculture. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. 53: 1, 75-78.
  13. Garner, S. (2010) Racisms an introduction. London: SAGE Publications.
  14. GOV.UK (2018) Confidence in the local police [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4 April 2019).
  15. GOV.UK (2019) Stop and search, [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4 April 2019).
  16. Hall, S. (1999) From Scarman to Stephen Lawrence. History Workshop Journal. 48, 187- 197. Available from: [Accessed 4 April 2019].
  17. Home Office (2014) Police Powers of Stop and Search, [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4 April 2019).
  18. Home Office (2018) Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2018, [online]. Available from: (Accesses 4 April 2019).
  19. House of Commons Home Affairs Committee (2009) The Macpherson Report—Ten Years On Twelfth Report of Session 2008–09. London: The Stationery Office Limited. Available from: [Accessed 4 April 2019].
  20. Kapoor, N. (2013) The advancement of racial neoliberalism in Britain. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36 (6), 1028-1046.
  21. Lammy, David, ed. (2017) The Lammy Review: An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System. London: HM Government. Available from: Accessed [27/3/19].
  22. OSCE (2019) ODIHR HATE CRIME REPORTING [online]. Available from: (Accessed 29 March 2019).
  23. Solomos, J and Small, S. (2006) Race, Immigration and Politics in Britain Changing Policy Agendas and Conceptual Paradigms 1940s–2000s. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 47(3–4), 235–257. DOI: 10.1177/0020715206065781.
  24. Tanovich, M, D. (2004) E- Racial Profiling, Alberta Law Review, 41 (4), 905-933. Available from: (Accessed 9 April 2019).
  25. True Vision (2019) Hate Crime During an Election or Referendum Period. [online] Available from: (Accessed 11 April 2019).
  26. Vertovec, S, (2007) Super-diversity and its implications, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30 (6), 1024-1054. DOI: 10.1080/01419870701599465
  27. Williams, P. (2018) BEING MATRIXED: THE (OVER)POLICING OF GANG SUSPECTS IN LONDON. [online]. Available from: (Accessed 4 April 2019).
  28. Yesufu, S. (2013) Discriminatory use of police stop-and search powers in London, UK. Department of Criminology School of Applied Human Sciences. 15 (4), 281-293.
  29. Youtube (2013) Enoch Powell's Rivers Of Blood Speech. Available from: [Accessed 4 April 2019].
Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this paper

The Peculiarities And Effects Of Racial Profiling In The UK. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
“The Peculiarities And Effects Of Racial Profiling In The UK.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
The Peculiarities And Effects Of Racial Profiling In The UK. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 Jun. 2024].
The Peculiarities And Effects Of Racial Profiling In The UK [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2024 Jun 12]. Available from:

Join our 150k of happy users

  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.