Barr: More must be done to tackle racial profiling

policing Lilian Seenoi Barr

SDLP councillor Lilian Seenoi Barr has said that more must be done to tackle racial profiling by police.

She was speaking after an event organised by the Committee on the Administration of Justice Northern Ireland and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

The latest figures from the PSNI show that people from minority ethnic communities are nearly twice as likely to be stopped and searched.

Councillor Barr said:

“It was very useful to have this meeting with partner organisations to discuss the continued problems people from minority ethnic backgrounds face when it comes to racial profiling. We have seen for a number of years that people from these communities are more likely to be stopped and searched by police, with little being done to address this. It’s just not good enough.

“We also discussed the policing of the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in June 2020 and the heavy-handed approach that caused serious friction between the police and minority communities and seriously damaged relations. That should have acted as the opportunity for a positive turning point where police could have learned from what took place and introduced measures which showed they had learned from it, but all too often these issues are met with denial and defensiveness.

“Addressing racial profiling and improving the treatment of minority ethnic communities requires comprehensive change, not just from our police service, but our society. We need to see legislative change to protect minority communities, including a modern Racial Equality Strategy which delivers systematic change within institutions, fosters consciousness of other cultures among the public and most importantly challenges biased policing practices and introduces a zero-tolerance approach to racism within our police service and society as a whole. Anyone engaging in discriminatory practices needs to be held to account to send a clear message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated in Northern Ireland.”

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