Pilkington, A. (2011) Continuities and changes in UK police community relations. Paper presented to: 16th World Congress of the International Society of Criminology: Global Socio-Economic Crisis and Crime Control Policies: Regional and National Comparison, Kobe, Japan, 05-09 August 2011.
Social commentators in both the US and UK increasingly suggest that we are living in a post racial society in which racism has been all but eradicated. Such a position implies that there has been a radical transformation the police in the last decade. The starting off point for this paper is the report in the UK of a judicial inquiry led by Lord Macpherson published in 1999 which came to the conclusion that the police were institutionally racist. This paper draws upon the author’s own research into a particular police force in Central England over the last decade to explore both continuities and changes in police culture and practice. Three particular issues form the focus of the paper: the policing of racist incidents, disproportionality in the use of stop and search; and the experiences of police officers from minority ethnic communities. The paper uses these three issues to examine what difference, if any, the Macpherson report has made over the last decade to race and policing. Has institutional racism been eradicated or is it still useful to characterise the police in these terms?