Stroud Against Racism – First year anniversary
An establishment paralysed by bluster and incompetence but our local communities, high streets, grassroot organisations and small businesses all stepped up to the plate to protect the vulnerable and support those in need.
It was against this backdrop that the murder of George Floyd, by Police, sparked the BLM protests right across the globe, shining a bright light onto the inequalities and systemic racism so deeply rooted within our ancient institutions.
Reflection on all those events served to emphasise how important our community, with all its diversity, really is.
Gloucestershire Constabulary established a Community Legitimacy Panel to help police address racial inequality and bring about the necessary institutional changes.
It was around this time that Stroud Against Racism came to prominence. SAR was an ideal platform to help bolster my work on the Stop & Search Scrutiny Panel and push for the reform demanded within our local community.
There is now also increasing external pressure on the constabulary from Her Majesty's Inspectorate to reform. All constabularies have been told to explain, with evidence, the reasons for disproportionality, or take demonstrable action to address it.
All this said, it is important to understand that our constabulary is getting a lot right. The stop searches in Gloucestershire's most diverse ward matches its ethnicity, for example. But, a confidential internal report still reveals much disproportionality in the use of these powers and a lack of ambition to address it.
Disproportionality flows from decades of ineffective political governance and a lack of investment in our poorer areas. These are tough issues to resolve, not something the Police can do on their own.
So, this has been a year of learning, education and ferocious debate which has driven the anti-racist agenda forward.
Importantly, the work done by SAR sees activists from different political parties working together to deliver change for their communities.
There is still much more work to be done.