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Coming together across Bristol to tackle racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system

Desmond Brown presenting to an audience in City Hall - with the slide on Tackling Disproportionality featured

The Race and The City 3 conference, hosted by Bristol City Council last week, saw the Office and Police Crime Commissioner (OPCC) give updates on exciting work taking place to tackle racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system.

The event, held at City Hall, featured presentations and talks from statutory agencies. It focused on disproportionality that exists in education and across our criminal justice services.  

It was attended by 200 stakeholders from sectors across the city, working in all areas of tackling racial inequity in service provision for local people.  

Sally Fox, Director of Performance and Accountability in the OPCC shared how we help to challenge, change and improve policing by using paid and volunteer members of the public to scrutinise and hold policing and the wider criminal justice system to account in areas like use of force, complaints, detention of people in custody and system-wide racial disproportionality.

Race equity campaigner Desmond Brown, who was also independent Chair of the Identifying Disproportionality in the Criminal Justice System review and author of its report, gave an update on the partnership work happening to tackle institutional racism in our criminal justice system:

Desmond said, “Days like these, that bring together education and criminal justice services, to work together to tackle disproportionality, are vital.

When education services fail young people, there is a high chance the same young people will end up in the criminal justice system, to become one of the statistics we talk about when we discuss disproportionality.

Our young people need support, and opportunities to achieve.

It’s encouraging to see the work that is already happening in agencies and across the police service, but there is more to do. As chair of the recently recruited Independent Scrutiny Board, I intend to work with them to continue to support and challenge the progress of the multi-agency work to tackle institutional racism in our criminal justice system.”

Maya Mate-Kole, founder and director of the Mwanzo Project, shared the work they’re doing to support young people and prevent them from being criminalised through the highly successful Call In programme in Bristol Mwanzo Project | Youth support organisation Bristol | Bristol, UK

Omari Cato, Chief Executive of Bristol-based Creative Power Town (CPT) was joined by four inspiring young people, who gave an insight in to a project they’ve been working on to deliver a video resource to explain young people’s rights around police ‘stop and search’ powers Creative Power Town.

The project, which was created and filmed by young people who learnt skills in the film-making process, was funded by the OPCC. The CPT team worked closely with Avon and Somerset Police to deliver engaging content that will be used to share with young people across social media and other platforms.

Will White, Assistant Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police – gave an update on the Race Matters work the police service is doing to address the national Police Race Action Plan goals of improving trust and confidence in Black heritage communities Race Matters | Avon and Somerset Police

One of the important roles of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is to hold our police service, and other organisations who deliver criminal justice services, to account. We work towards the vision of a criminal justice system that is fair and equitable for all.