More than half of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report’s recommendations are similar to those made before. While they may differ in detail, they echo those made in 14 previous reviews into racial discrimination and inequality since 1999.
Some 16 of the 24 recommendations in the report essentially repeat or are similar to proposals in past reports that have either been ignored or only patchily enacted.
To work this out, I compared every recommendation with the findings of these reports:
1999 The Macpherson Report: The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry
2010 The Marmot Review: Fair Society, Healthy Lives
2012 After the Riots: The Final Report of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel
2013 The Adebowale Report: Independent Commission on Mental Health and Policing
2014 The Young Review: Improving Outcomes for Black and Muslim Men in the Criminal Justice System
2017 The Angiolini Review: Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody
2017 The McGregor-Smith Review: Race in the Workplace
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
2017 Race Disparity Audit
2017 The Parker Review: Ethnic Diversity of UK Boards
2018 The Wessely Review: Modernising the Mental Health Act
2019 The Timpson Review of School Exclusion
2020 Best Beginnings in the Early Years by the Children’s Commissioner
2020 Windrush Lessons Learned
While there are original recommendations in the latest report – including on discriminatory algorithms, the use of “Bame” as a category, and online abuse – many recommendations essentially repeat or are very similar to the proposals of previous reports. (You can see my list at the bottom of this article).
This isn’t to say the recommendations don’t have merit. Indeed, the report explicitly states it is building on the work of previous reports, many of which are listed above. But it does illustrate how many blueprints for policy to address racial disparities are already out there – and how many are still pending government action.
Recommendation 4 “Bridge divides and create partnerships between the police and communities. Develop a minimum standard framework for independently-chaired community ‘Safeguarding Trust’ groups that scrutinise and problem-solve alongside policing, and independently inspect forces against this minimum standard.”
Recommendation 5 “Improve training to provide police officers with practical skills to interact with communities. Develop a strategy to improve the efficacy and implementation of stop and search, and de-escalation training ensuring a consistent approach is taken by all police force areas.”
These echo the Macpherson Report’s call “to increase trust and confidence in policing amongst minority ethnic communities” including with the use of greater inspection, and After the Riots’ recommendation that “police forces proactively engage with communities about issues that impact on the perceptions of their integrity”, and its calls for improved “quality of minor encounters”, plus, again, greater independent inspection.
Recommendation 14 “Increase legitimacy and accountability of stop and search through body-worn video. Increased scrutiny of body-worn video footage of stop and search encounters, with senior officer involvement required in cases where interactions are of concern and need improvement.”
After the Riots proposes that the Met “needs to improve satisfaction levels, particularly among black and ethnic minority communities, in their use of stop and search powers” and “needs to be more transparent in the justification for and use of their stop and search powers”. The Lammy Review favourably cites the case study of Northamptonshire Police’s enhanced accountability for stop and search.
Recommendation 6 “Replicate the factors of educational success for all communities. Invest in meaningful and substantial research to understand and replicate the underlying factors that drive success of high performing groups.”
This is the flipside of the Timpson Review’s call to create “inclusive environments, especially for children from ethnic groups with higher rates of exclusion” at school.
Recommendation 7 “Invest in proven interventions through better targeted funding. Systematically target disparities in education outcomes between disadvantaged pupils and their peers through funding, considering geographical variation, ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status.”
The Timpson Review makes repeated recommendations for the Department for Education to invest more in children who fare the worst at school.
Recommendation 8 “Advance fairness in the workplace. Develop resources and evidence-based approaches of what works to advance fairness in the workplace, and which are readily available to employers.”
The McGregor-Smith Review calls for “transparent and fair reward and recognition: employers should ensure that all elements of reward and recognition, from appraisals to bonuses, reflect the racial diversity of the organisation”.
Recommendation 9 “Investigate what causes existing ethnic pay disparities. Require publication of a diagnosis and action plan for organisations who choose to publish ethnicity pay figures. These should set out the reasons why any disparities exist and what will be done to address them.”
The McGregor-Smith Review has many recommendations relating to ethnicity pay gap transparency and improvement, including that “listed companies and all businesses and public bodies with more than 50 employees should publish a breakdown of employees by race and pay band”.
Recommendation 11 “Establish an Office for Health Disparities. Establish a new office to properly target health disparities in the UK, focusing on research, communications and expertise to reduce health inequalities across all groups.”
The Marmot Review recommends prioritising “investment in ill health prevention and health promotion across government departments to reduce the social gradient”, “focusing public health interventions such as smoking cessation programmes and alcohol reduction on reducing the social gradient” and “improving programmes to address the causes of obesity across the social gradient”.
Recommendation 12 “Prevent harm, reduce crime and divert young people away from the criminal justice system. Develop an evidence-based pilot that diverts offences of low-level Class B drug possession into public health services.”
The Lammy Review recommends the “deferred prosecution” model for adult and young offenders (“the key aspect of the model is that it provides interventions before pleas are entered rather than after”) and cites “structured intervention, such as drug treatment, instead of… criminal charges”.
Recommendation 18 “Improve safety and support for children at risk. Develop a digital solution to signpost and refer children and young people at risk of, or already experiencing criminal exploitation, to local organisations who can provide support.”
After the Riots is similar in that it encourages “better use of social media” to address youth criminality, and argues this approach “presents huge opportunities and recommends that every neighbourhood team have its own social media capability”.
Recommendation 19 “Undertake a ‘support for families’ review. Undertake a review to investigate and take action to address the underlying issues facing families. This Commission has identified this as a significant contributing factor to the experience of disparities.”
After the Riots makes numerous family-based recommendations, including for providers to “work together and plan services around forgotten families rather than focusing on individuals and operating in silos”, for “absent fathers [to] be contacted by statutory social services and schools about their children as a matter of course” and for “extending the Family Nurse Partnership programme, initially to all first time mothers under 18, and then to all those under 20”.
The Best Beginnings in the Early Years report also focuses on policies to support families, for example, “a family guarantee of support for early years children and their families”, “a national infrastructure of children and family hubs to support children and families” and “building the Early Years Workforce”.
Recommendation 20 “Making of modern Britain: teaching an inclusive curriculum. Produce high-quality teaching resources, through independent experts, to tell the multiple, nuanced stories of the contributions made by different groups that have made this country the one it is today.”
The Timpson Review warns that the curriculum can “switch off” a number of young people, and emphasises the importance of a broad curriculum.
Recommendation 21 “Create police workforces that represent the communities they serve. Introduce a local residency requirement for recruitment to each police force area, with the College of Policing developing guidance to support implementation.”
Recommendation 22 Equip the police service to serve the needs of their local communities Design and evaluate recruitment pilots that match candidates’ life skills with the needs of the communities they serve in their local areas.
The Macpherson Report recommends targets, published progress reports and initiatives to increase “recruitment, progression and retention of minority ethnic staff”, and the Lammy Review recommends increasing diversity in the criminal justice system.
Recommendation 23 “Use data in a responsible and informed way. Develop and publish a set of ethnicity data standards to improve understanding and information gathering, reducing the opportunity for misunderstanding and misuse.”
This echoes the intent of the Race Disparity Audit introduced in 2017 to aid “analysis [that] helps to understand and assess differences between ethnic groups”.
Recommendation 2 “Review the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) inspection process. Review the CQC’s approach to including disparities in the experiences, progression and disciplinary actions taken against ethnic minority staff in their inspections of healthcare providers.”
This has a similarity to the Wessely Review’s call for a greater role for the CQC in monitoring the use of the Mental Health Act – which disproportionately affects certain minority groups.