The Macpherson Report recommended a series of measures that would subject the police to greater public control, enshrine rights for victims of crime and extend the number of offences classified as racist. Freedom of information and race relations legislation will also apply to the police.
The 70 recommendations of the Macpherson Report included:
Government inspectors will have “full and unfettered powers” to inspect police services. An investigation into the Metropolitan Police will begin immediately, with particular emphasis on unsolved murders and the handling of racist incidents.
The Government will establish performance indicators to monitor the handling of racist incidents, levels of satisfaction with the police service among ethnic minorities, training of family and witness liaison officers, racial awareness training, stop and search procedures, recruitment of ethnic minorities and complaints about racism in police forces.
The Met’s remit will be brought into line with that of other forces.
Police forces should reflect the cultural and ethnic mix of the communities they serve.
A freedom of information act should apply to all areas of policing (with the exception of the “substantial harm” test for withholding disclosure in exceptional circumstances).
Race relations legislation should apply to all police officers.
The definition of a “racist incident” will now include incidents categorised in policing terms both as crimes and non-crimes. It will now encompass “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”. A new Code of Practice will record all such crimes.
The public will be encouraged to report racist incidents by making it possible to report them 24 hours a day, and not only at police stations.
The Association of Chief Police Officers will devise new guidelines for reviews of investigations.
The Met will review its scene-of-crime procedures, the way it records crimes, its internal inspections and liaison between uniformed officers and the CID.
Dedicated Family Liaison Officers must exist in every police force at local level. Any complaints or requests from a victim’s family must be recorded.
The Victim’s Charter should be reviewed, particularly for racist incidents. Trained victim and witness liaison officers had to be made available.
The judicial system
The report wanted no change in the standard of proof needed for the prosecution of racist crimes.
The report wanted any evidence of racist motivation to be declared at all stages of the prosecution and that there should be no exclusions on the grounds of plea-bargaining.
The report wanted the Crown Prosecution Service to always notify a victim (or the victim’s family) of plans to discontinue a prosecution.
The report wanted consideration given to a change in the “double jeopardy” law to enable the appeals court to allow a new prosecution after acquittal “where fresh and viable evidence is presented”.
The report wanted consideration for a change in the law that would allow prosecution of racist offences that took place other than in public (such as in the home).
The report wanted consideration of the proposition that victims (or their families) become “civil parties” to criminal proceedings, enabling them to have access to all relevant information in the case.
The report wanted consideration of the provision of legal aid to victims (or their families) at inquests, where appropriate.
The report wanted a prevention of the intimidation of victims and witnesses through appropriate bail conditions.
The report wanted improved first aid training for police officers.
The report wanted a review and revision of racial awareness training in police forces. The report wanted local ethnic minorities to be involved in regular training for all police.
The report wanted new powers to discipline police officers for at least five years after their retirement.
The report wanted all proven “racist words or acts” to lead to disciplinary proceedings, and such behaviour should normally be punishable by dismissal.
The report wanted new steps to ensure independent investigations into serious complaints against the police.
The report wanted a review of the selection and promotion of officers at inspector level and above.
Stop and search
The report wanted no change in the stop-and-search powers of the police. The report wanted records of all stop-and-search operations to be published, and a copy of the record given to the person involved.
The report wanted annual published reports on the progress of police authorities in meeting their ethnic minority recruitment, promotion and retention levels.
The wider community
The report wanted consideration of a revised national curriculum to prevent racism and value cultural diversity. The report wanted school governors and local education authorities to create strategies for dealing with racist incidents.
The report wanted consideration of similar initiatives at a local government level.
Courtesy of Lee Bryant, Director of Sixth Form, Anglo-European School, Ingatestone, Essex