Merseyside Police 'not institutionally racist', says chief constable following comments by PCC

Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy (left) and Merseyside PCC Emily Spurrell (right). Credit: PA

The Chief Constable of Merseyside Police has "categorically" denied the force is institutionally racist, following claims made by the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Emily Spurrell made the comments in an interview with an online channel, Policing TV.

The PCC, who was elected to the position in May 2021, said that while the "vast majority" of officers were "incredibly dedicated" and "not racist" - the institution had been "designed by a certain group of people" and "did not take into account" the experiences of black and ethnic minority people.

Merseyside's Chief Constable Serena Kennedy has flatly denied the force is "institutionally racist".

Chief Constable of Merseyside Police Serena Kennedy responded by saying that she "categorically" does not believe that Merseyside Police is institutionally racist.

She said: "The history and impact of racism across policing and the harm this has caused to communities and colleagues is clear.

"There has been a lot of work done nationally and locally to understand and address this.

"We know that policing, like society, is not free of racial discrimination, bias and disproportionality.

"It still exists in some policies and processes, and we are taking action to change this.

"We collectively want to improve, we want to progress, we want to be better. We are not institutionally racist.

"There has been a lot of work done to understand how we need to change, and progress has been made but we know we need to do more, and we are committed to this."

Merseyside PCC Emily Spurrell made the comments about the force being "institutionally racist" as part of a discussion involving Dorset PCC David Sedwick and Hertfordshire PCC David Lloyd about various subjects around policing, including efforts to tackle institutional racism.

Both Mr Lloyd and Mr Sedwick said they did not think their police forces were institutionally racist.

Ms Spurrell was asked by Policing TV reporter Danny Shaw: "Do you accept that Merseyside Police is institutionally racist?"

She replied: "I do. I do. And I've had this conversation with my chief. Because I think when you look at the definition of institutional racism, it is not about individual officers.

"I know that Merseyside Police, absolutely, the vast majority are incredibly dedicated, not racist, you know, to me, they are absolutely committed to serving the public, whoever they are."

Merseyside PCC Emily Spurrell made the comments on Policing TV.

Former police officer Chantelle Lunt says Merseyside Police are nowhere where they need to be in terms of addressing institutional racism.

She said: "It's very interesting that these two middle class white women are having a conversation about black people's experiences. A: as people profiled by the police and B: as people who are ignored as victims by the police without any consultation with the black community."

Following the interview, Ms Spurrell, said in a statement: "However we define it, racism and inequality permeate all our public institutions.

"Our systems and processes were designed by a certain group of people in a different time when the make-up of society was different.

"Some of those structures are out-dated and they don't work for all our communities now.

"But we must continue to be actively anti-racist if we are to win trust back, particularly among black communities."