Black Lives Matter report: Establish body to target health disparities among recommendations made by landmark race study

  • Video report by ITV News UK Editor Paul Brand

The government should implement an extended school day and establish a body to target health disparities, a landmark report on race in the UK has advised.

The government asked The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities to produce the study in the wake of last summer's Black Lives Matter protests.

The report, published on Wednesday, argued that the UK is no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.

The Commission also made 24 recommendations for the government and other official bodies, which it believes will "catalyse the most effective way to meaningfully address disparities and inequalities".

Those recommendations:

1) Challenge racist and discriminatory actions

The report advises that the government fund Britain’s national equality body in order for it to put its powers to greater use.

The Commission wants the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to be able to "challenge policies or practices that either cause significant and unjust racial disadvantage, or arise from racial discrimination".

2) Review the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) inspection process

The Commission has asked the Department of Health and Social Care to review the CQC’s approach to assessing employee diversity and inclusion in their inspections.

The report recommends that "this review is chaired by an expert with close knowledge of the health care system and CQC internal processes".

The suggestion follows a number of health workers from an ethnic minority background reporting discrimination at work.

3) Improve the transparency and use of artificial intelligence

Following concerns that artificial intelligence upholds racial inequality, the Commission has called on the government to clarify how the Equality Act can be applied when algorithms are being built.

It added that the government should: "Place a mandatory transparency obligation on all public sector organisations applying algorithms that have an impact on significant decisions affecting individuals".

4) Bridge divides and create partnerships between the police and communities

In response to concerns about stop and search, the report advised that the The College of Policing, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and National Police Chief’s Council produce a framework to "scrutinise and problem solve" alongside policing.

The Commission asks that the framework "ensures there is a minimum level of engagement with communities in every police service area".

The report responded to concerns about stop and search. Credit: PA

5) Improve training to provide police officers with practical skills to interact with communities

Building on recommendation four, the report calls for the aforementioned policing organisations to "develop a strategy to improve the efficacy and implementation of stop and search".

It also calls for "de-escalation training", ensuring a consistent approach is taken by all police force areas.

6) Replicate the factors of educational success for all communities

The report recommends that Department for Education invests in "meaningful and substantial research to understand and replicate the factors that drive the success of the high performing groups" in educational settings.

The report found that children from many ethnic communities do as well, or better than, white pupils in compulsory education, with black Caribbean pupils the only group to perform less well.

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7) Invest in proven interventions through better targeted funding

The report recommends that the government "systematically targets disparities in education outcomes between disadvantaged pupils and their peers."

The Commission suggests this is done through funding and that geographical variation, ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status are taken into account.

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 report recommends.

It calls for organisations to move away from funding unconscious bias training - a form of training that increased in popularity following last summer's Black Lives Matter protests.

9) Investigate what causes existing ethnic pay disparities

The government should "require publication of a diagnosis and action plan for organisations who choose to publish ethnicity pay figures," the report says. 

"These should set out the reasons why any disparities exist and what will be done to address them."The Commission does not, however, call for the government to ask all employers to publish data on ethnicity pay gaps.

10) Improve understanding of the ethnicity pay gap in NHS England

Off the back of recommendation nine, the Commission has recommended that NHS England specifically "commissions a strategic review of the causes of disparate pay".

It adds that where discrimination is pinpointed, NHS England should "spell out the measures that might meaningfully address it".

11) Establish an Office for Health Disparities

The Commission wants the government to "properly target health disparities in the UK, focusing on research, communications and expertise to reduce health inequalities across all groups".

The Commission wants to tackle ethnicity pay gaps within NHS England. Credit: PA

It follows findings that some ethnic minority groups are disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 and that black and Asian women are more likely than their white counterparts to die in pregnancy or childbirth.

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 report recommends.

It says it wants to "urgently" address the disproportionate number of young people from ethnic minority groups entering the criminal justice system after being caught with Class B drugs.13) Build social and cultural capital through an extended school day

The Commission recommends that the Secretary of State for Education "urgently consider phasing in an extended school day".

"Phase in an extended school day prioritising disadvantaged areas to provide pupils with the opportunity to engage in physical and cultural activities that enrich lives and build social and cultural capital," the report said.

The report calls for extended school days. Credit: PA

14) Increase legitimacy and accountability of stop and search through body-worn video

The report calls for "increased scrutiny of body-worn video footage of stop and search encounters."

It suggests that a senior officer should be required to review cases where interactions "are of concern and need improvement".

15) Empower pupils to make more informed choices to fulfil their future potential

The report wants the Office for Students, England's independent regulator of higher education, to guide higher education institutions in reducing disparities in applications.

"Stronger guidance should be issued by the Office for Students to higher education institutions on funding outreach programmes and placing university outreach staff in school," it says.

16) Open up access to apprenticeships

The report recommends that the government conducts "a highly-targeted apprenticeships campaign to persuade young people to do apprenticeships in growth sectors".

The Commission believes that the campaign could particularly benefit "young people who face discrimination and currently lack access to in-depth information about the full range of career pathways".

17) Encourage innovation

The report has called on HSBC bank to collaborate with universities in piloting an enterprise programme targeted at "aspiring entrepreneurs from under-represented and low-income backgrounds".

It believes the programme could encourage other banks and financial institutions to produce similar schemes.

18) Improve safety and support for children at risk

The Commission recommends that the Youth Justice board, a public body responsible for youth justice, develops a digital solution that can be used by young people at risk of criminal exploitation.

It wants children to be directed to local organisations that provide support.

19) Undertake a ‘support for families’ review

"Undertake a review to investigate and take action to address the underlying issues facing families," the report recommends.

The Commission wants to tackle the underlying issues facing families. Credit: PA

The Commission says issues such as economic and social pressure are "significant contributing factors" to the experience of disparities.

20) Teaching an inclusive curriculum

The commission wants the government to "produce high-quality teaching resources, through independent experts, to tell the multiple, nuanced stories of the contributions made by different groups" to the UK.

Elsewhere in the report, the Commission wrote that there is a "new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering, but how culturally African people transformed themselves."

This part of the report has received significant backlash - many accused the commission of attempting to put a positive spin on slavery.

21) Create police workforces that represent the communities they serve

The Commission also wants police forces to be more ethnically diverse.

It advises the College of Policing to "Introduce a local residency requirement for recruitment to each police force area, with the College of Policing (CoP) developing guidance to support implementation".

Protesters in London’s Trafalgar Square during a Black Lives Matter rally. Credit: PA

22) Equip the police service with skills to serve the needs of their local communities

The Commission also recommends that the CoP works with police services to "design and evaluate recruitment pilots that match candidates’ life skills with the needs of the communities they serve in their local areas".

It says the CoP should outline timelines for these pilots by September 2021.

23) Use data in a responsible and informed way

The Commission wants official statistics bodies to develop a "set of ethnicity data standards to improve understanding and information gathering, reducing the opportunity for misunderstanding and misuse".

The report calls for this standard to be applied across all media and public communications channels.

24) 'BAME' should no longer be used

The Commission recommends that the government move away from the use of the term ‘BAME’, which stands for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. It says differences between groups are as important as what they have in common.

Elsewhere in the report, the Commission said it was better to focus on “understanding disparities and outcomes for specific ethnic groups”. It said this should be linked to the “harmonisation” of ethnicity categories in government departments and other organisations, in order to support a more “granular” approach to data collection and use.