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Thursday, 25 March, 1999, 18:37 GMT
Jack Straw's full response
The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, published his action plan in response to the recommendations proposed by the Macpherson report on Tuesday 23 March 1999.
The centrepiece of the plan was his commitment to extending the Race Relations Act to the whole of the public sector, including the police. But Jack Straw expressed reservations about some of the reforms proposed by the inquiry.
Areas of concern included proposals to introduce school-by-school league tables of racial incidents, scrapping the 'double jeopardy' rule which means a defendant cannot be tried twice for the same crime and making illegal racist remarks in private.
Mr Straw announced he is to take personal responsibility for oversight of the programme. He will also chair a steering group to oversee the implementation of the 70 recommendations. The group will include the Commission for Racial Equality and the Black Police Association.
The Government's proposals will be debated in the House of Commons on Monday 29 March. Below is the government's action plan setting out how the government proposes to implement the recommendations.
Openness and accountability
Accepted - The home secretary has accepted this proposal.
2. New performance indicators for police responses to racist incidents with the overall aim being the elimination of racist prejudice and disadvantage.
Accepted - For the coming year the government will use the indicators already accepted. The Home Office will consult widely to develop more effective indicators so that the delivery of the priority can be assessed from next year.
3. Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary (HMIC) to get full powers to inspect all parts of the police service.
4. HMIC to inspect the Metropolitan Police.
Accepted - The home secretary has already directed the HMIC to conduct an inspection of the Metropolitan Police Service forthwith.
5. Principles similar to those used by OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) to be extended to all police inspections.
6.The Metropolitan Police Authority to be formed with powers to appoint senior officers.
Accepted - Except in relation to appointing the commissioner, and deputy commissioner.
7. The home secretary to ensure that authorities represent an area's cultural and ethnic mix.
Accepted - The Association of Police Authorities (APA) will publish the ethnic breakdown of police authorities' membership. The home secretary will consider with the APA whether the guidance and/or statutory regulations on the appointment of independent members should be changed.
8. HMIC to use lay inspectors.
Accepted - There will be a review of lay involvement in inspections. The Inspectorate currently employ two lay people as part-time assistant inspectors of constabulary. HMIC is to examine how to enhance their role - proposals will be submitted to the home secretary before the end of the year.
9. The Freedom of information Act to be applied to all areas of policing.
Accepted in part - All aspects of policing, including operations, will be subject to freedom of information legislation, but information relating to investigations and informers will be exempt as a class. Disclosure will be subject to an appropriate harm test. The government will publish a draft bill and consultation paper on freedom of information in May 1999.
10. Reports on complaints against police to be available to complainants.
Accepted - The Home Office will consult ACPO, APA and the CPS - about how to put the recommendation into practice. Consultation and conclusions will be announced by the end of 1999.
11. The Race Relations Act to be applied to police officers.
Accepted - The government accepted this recommendation and extended this to apply to all public services.
Definition of a racist incident
12.The definition should be "A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person".
Accepted - The government accepts the definition of a racist incident.
13. All such incidents to be recorded.
14. That this definition should be universally adopted by the police, local government and other relevant agencies.
Reporting and recording of racist incidents and crimes
15. That codes of practice be established by the Home Office - to create a comprehensive system of reporting and recording of all racist incidents and crimes.
16. Police services to be encouraged to be able to log such incidents 24 hours a day.
17.All information to be shared between police and other relevant agencies.
Police practice and the investigation of racist crime
18. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to review good practice code on racist incidents.
Accepted - The ACPO Good Practice Guide has been reviewed and a new manual will be issued by Dec 1999.
19. ACPO to develop code for reviews of investigations.
20. Met police procedures at scenes of incidents to be reviewed to ensure greater co-ordination.
Accepted - The MPS is undertaking an immediate review of its co-ordination at scenes of incidents. The review will be completed by the end of 1999.
21. Met police to review procedures for the recording and retention of information.
22. Met police to review their internal inspection and accountability processes to ensure that policy directives are observed.
Accepted - The MPS will introduce a new internal inspection and review framework from April 1999.
23. Police forces to ensure that trained family liaison officers are available for the victims of crime.
Accepted - A complete review of family liaison arrangements is under way.
24. Such officers to be given race awareness training.
25. Such officers should be dedicated primarily, if not exclusively, to this task.
26. All possible information to be provided to families.
27.Any complaints to be properly recorded and looked into.
28. Police and victim support services to use contact with minority ethnic communities.
Victims and witnesses
29. Police to develop guidelines for handling victims and witnesses, particularly in the field of racist incidents.
30. Police and Victim Support to make use of minority ethnic contacts when handling sensitive witnesses.
31. Police provide and train victim/witness liaison officers.
Prosecution of racist crimes
32. That the standard of proof of such crimes should remain unchanged. Accepted - The government agreed that the standard of proof for racist crimes should remain unchanged.
33. CPS to presume it is in the public interest to prosecute.
34. Police and CPS to ensure race element of a prosecution is referred to at stages.
35. CPS to keep victim's family informed of any proposal to discontinue.
Further consideration - The CPS role in relation to victims is under consideration. The government's conclusions taking account of the Lawrence inquiry will be announced by the end of June 1999.
36. CPS to have duty to inform victim's family personally of decision to discontinue.
37.Decisions to be recorded and sent to family.
38. That consideration should be given to the Court of Appeal being given power to permit prosecution after acquittal where fresh and viable evidence is presented.
Accepted - Referred to the Law Commission to consider - will take some time, but the Home Office will discuss the practicalities and priorities with the Law Commission with the aim of establishing by the end of April a clear timetable for this consideration.
39. That consideration should be given to amendment of the law to allow prosecution of offences involving racist language or behaviour, and of offences involving the possession of offensive weapons, where such conduct can be proved to have taken place otherwise than in a public place.
Consideration - The action plan states: "We have serious reservations about going beyond the law as it stands." The action plan says it is important any new crime is enforceable and there are potential conflicts with the European Convention on Human Rights to be considered before any decision can be taken.
40. That the ability to initiate a private prosecution should remain unchanged.
41. Consideration of idea that victims or their families becoming "civil parties."
42Disclosure of evidence to parties who have leave to appear at an inquest.
Accepted - In relation to deaths in custody
43. Consideration to availability of legal aid for victims and their families at inquests.
Accepted - In relation to exceptional cases
44. That police services and the courts seek to prevent the intimidation of victims and witnesses by imposing appropriate bail conditions.
Training - First aid
45. First aid training for all "public contact" officers.
46. First aid training to be to recognised standards.
47. Police to review such training annually.
Training - Racism awareness and cultural diversity
48. Immediate review of racism awareness training
Accepted - the government agrees that all police services should review their provision of racism awareness training.
49. All police staff to be given such training.
50. Such training to be conducted regularly and local minority ethnic communities should be involved in such training and expertise.
51.Police to consider joint race training with other organisations.
52. The Home Office to publish recognised standards of training aims and objectives in the field of racism awareness.
53. Independent monitoring of such training.
54.Consideration given to review training in other agencies especially in criminal justice.
Employment, discipline and complaints
55.Changes to the Police Disciplinary and Complaints procedures already proposed by Home Secretary to be fully implemented and monitored.
Accepted - New police discipline procedures will come into force on 1 April 1999.
56.Officers to be subject to disciplinary proceedings at least five years after retirement.
Further consideration - And will also consider legislation to enable forfeiture of police pensions for serious disciplinary offence.
57. Police to ensure racist words or acts should lead to disciplinary proceedings and "usually merit dismissal."
Accepted recommendation in principle - Under the new code of conduct which applies from 1 April, there are no specific offences, but either racist language or behaviour would be a breach of the code. But it cannot be applied in a generalised way in practice, because each case must be decided on its merits.
58. The home secretary to consider allowing serious complaints against police to be independently investigated.
Accepted - A study of an independent complaints system will be completed by April 2000.
59. The Home Office to review police procedures for selection and promotion of officers.
Stop and search
60. Current powers of the police to remain unchanged.
61. The home secretary to ensure that all stops by police are recorded, including the ethnic identity of the person stopped.
Assessed through pilot projects
62.Records to be monitored by police and police authorities and reviewed by HMIC.
Assessed through pilot projects
63. That police authorities be given the duty to undertake publicity campaigns to ensure that the public is aware of "stop and search" provisions and the right to receive a record in all circumstances.
Assessed through pilot projects
Recruitment and retention
64.Plans to be drawn up by Home Secretary for recruitment, progression and retention of minority ethnic staff.
Accepted - The government has said it will aim for a police service which fully reflects the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural diversity of the communities it serves. The home secretary will set targets in April 1999.
65. The Home Office and police to develop initiatives to increase minority ethnic recruiting.
66. HMIC to report details of such recruitment, progression and retention.
Prevention and the role of education
67.Consideration be given to amendment of the National Curriculum aimed at valuing cultural diversity and preventing racism, in order better to reflect the needs of a diverse society.
Accepted - "We will ensure that citizenship education has a prominent place in the National Curriculum."
68. Schools to record and report all racist incidents and notify parents/guardians. Details of numbers of such incidents to be published on school-by-school basis, along with numbers of pupils excluded and their ethnic identity.
Accepted in part - All incidents will be recorded and reported to parents, governors and the local education authority. The government does not agree with the recommendation to publish the number of racist incidents on a school-by-school basis.
69.OFSTED to examine implementation of such strategies.
70. Police, local government and other agencies to develop initiatives to promote cultural diversity and address racism.
Accept in principle
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