A government-backed review of racial disparities in the UK is facing criticism for the lack of intellectual rigour that underpins its findings.
The report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was set up after Black Lives Matter anti-racism protests across the country last summer – triggered by the killing of George Floyd in the US – argues Britain is no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.
But the commission stands accused of “cynical manipulation” of data and making “disingenuous” claims not borne out by reality.
The commission’s chair, Dr Tony Sewell, has previously suggested that the evidence for “institutional racism” is “somewhat flimsy”, and the report’s conclusions rejecting the idea that racial discrimination is deep-rooted within British society.
They have misread, misused and misrepresented the data to fit the preconceived narrativeProfessor Kehinde Andrews, from Birmingham City University
Anti-racism campaigners have branded the commission a “whitewash”, while unions said the report was “deeply cynical” and denied the experiences of Black and minority ethnic workers. “We are being gaslighted,” said Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy.
Black studies professor Kehinde Andrews, from Birmingham City University, told HuffPost UK: “The basic problem of the report is that it is government propaganda masquerading as legitimate research.
“There are countless qualified people in the UK who have already done this work but the government chose a bunch of institutional racism deniers to dismiss the evidence and paint a picture that suits their agenda.
“They have consistently denied the problem exists and now they have produced the evidence they need.”
He added: “The reason that the findings go so far against the – largely settled – consensus in the actually academic field is because it is simply not credible. They have misread, misused and misrepresented the data to fit the preconceived narrative.
“It’s so bad that is probably unfair to judge it as a reasonable piece of work, when it was never meant to be. It would be laughable if the joke was not on those already disadvantaged by institutional racism.”
It’s conclusions on the police’s controversial use of stop-and-search powers are questionable, critics say.
It states: “In England and Wales in 2019 to 2020, 76% of all stops resulted in no further action and 13% resulted in arrest.
“The highest percentage of arrests resulting from stop and search was of White people (52%), followed by 19% of stops of Black people, and 9% of stops of Asian people. This equates to approximately one-in-two White people arrested as a result of stop and search, one-in-five Black people, and one-in-10 Asian people.
“However, in a review of 9,378 stop and search records from 2019, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services estimate that there were reasonable grounds for stop and search in 81.7% of cases – the vast majority of instances in which it was used.”
Aside from framing the debate around amount of white people being stopped and searched as opposed to proportion of the population, a solicitor with expertise on stop and search pointed to the level of unfounded uses of the powers and how that affects Black people, and warned of a “lack of institutional curiosity” from the review.
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