Policing Diversity and Vulnerability in the Post-Macpherson Era: Unintended Consequences and Missed Opportunities
Bartkowiak-Theron, I and Asquith, N, Policing Diversity and Vulnerability in the Post-Macpherson Era: Unintended Consequences and Missed Opportunities, Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 9, (1) pp. 89-100. ISSN 1752-4520 (2015) [Refereed Article]
The ripple effects of the Macpherson inquiry were felt by police organizations worldwide. However, the points Macpherson was making were never to be limited to race, ethnicity, or cultural difference. Nonetheless, the policies and practices to emerge since the Macpherson report have taken race and cultural difference as a template for the development of an ever-increasing number of siloed responses to vulnerability in the policing process. In this article, we examine the essential need to depart from the historical and siloed framing of police–race relations. Instead, we argue that policies and practices should respond to vulnerability as a fundamental socio-cultural characteristic of all criminal justice encounters. After much public scrutiny, many vulnerable groups have now become the target of non-negotiable, precautionary protocols for police to abide by, in order to address the disadvantage caused by a variety of attributes (such as age, mental health, language). This siloed approach to diversity and the cultural awareness and quota models that emerged from the Macpherson recommendations are no longer adequate for the increasing differentiation of modern societies. We suggest that Macpherson’s recommendations, despite their success, have left in their wake a series of institutional artefacts that have ossified policing responses to diversity. As a more realistic template to address a wider understanding of diversity, we propose re-centring vulnerability as a ubiquitous characteristic of all criminal justice encounters through the use of Herring and Henderson’s framing of critical diversity (2011).