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ISER evidence on racial harassment harm shared with the Independent Office for Police Conduct

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Researchers from the Institute for Social and Economic Research have been sharing findings on the impact of racial harassment with investigators at the Independent Office for Police Conduct, with a view to informing their dealings with complainants and others who may have experienced racial harassment.

The research has particular relevance to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) because widespread experiences of ethnic and racial harassment are likely to complicate interactions between ethnic minority clients and authorities, including the police. Ethnic minorities are likely to be mistrustful of authorities in the face of widespread personal experience of harassment, and experiences of ethnic and racial harassment will result in ethnic minority clients who are more anxious and depressed. Awareness of this general context is necessary when handling cases involving ethnic minorities, regardless of the specific grounds for the complaint.

Researchers have prepared a briefing note summarising the research for IOPC teams across England and Wales.

ISER’s recent research, using nationally representative data on ethnic minorities in the UK, has demonstrated a high prevalence of ethnic and racial harassment and a strong association between experiencing ethnic and racial harassment and mental health.

IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green said: “The Institute for Social and Economic Research presented their findings on the impact of racial harassment at two IOPC staff workshops. We welcome such research which helps to develop our understanding of issues of public concern that are relevant to our work to improve policing and the complaints system.”

The research found that ethnic and racial harassment is severely underreported in police statistics: around 10 per cent of ethnic minority people reported experiencing ethnic and racial harassment in the past year. Further, almost twice as many ethnic minority people felt unsafe or avoided public places due to their religion, ethnicity, race or nationality. Experiencing ethnic and racial harassment, or fearing it, was associated with poorer mental health, an association larger than the difference in mental health between the employed and unemployed.

The researchers have also recently presented the findings to third sector groups and health professionals supporting ethnic minorities in Bradford.