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Black Lives Matter

We at Tap Social want to make a statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  We strongly support those who have raised their voices and taken to the streets across the world in protest against racial inequality, as tragically and powerfully symbolised by the senseless killing of George Floyd by white police officers in Minneapolis, USA on the 25th May 2020.

 

We make this statement acutely aware of the amount that has been said on the subject already, including by those whose lives are touched much more directly than ours, and who can, in consequence, speak with much more authority on these issues than we can. 

 

Nonetheless, we do wish to voice our support and we hope that the experiences of our team in working for a fairer criminal justice and prisons system, both in our work before Tap Social and through the Tap Social journey to date, mean we have something useful to add to the conversation. 

 

In addition to this statement of support, over the course of the next week or so we will be publishing a series of short blog posts highlighting some of the main ways in which the criminal justice system of England and Wales currently displays significant levels of racial disparity.  These posts will highlight racial injustice in the way in which our police forces exercise their powers, in the operation of the criminal courts and finally in our prisons.  We hope that by doing so we will help to increase awareness of the scale of this issue, and in turn increase the pressure for reform. 

 

The importance of community – broadening the debate

 

Whilst it is an over-used word, one of our key values at Tap Social is ‘community’, and we have always strived to create as broad and inclusive a community of staff, customers, suppliers, supporters and friends as possible. More than ever in the Brexit/Trump era it seems there is a risk of modern society disintegrating into polarised echo-chambers which simply recirculate and reinforce their own ideas and values whilst entrenching divisions and deepening existing conflicts. If we are to respond constructively and together as a society to the numerous complex and deep-rooted causes of ongoing structural racism in the UK we must resist these tendencies. 

 

As well as being more interesting and fun for everyone, we believe creating genuinely diverse, open and inclusive communities (physically and online) allows us to share, test and debate important ideas as widely and thoroughly as possible and can create understanding and empathy in place of ignorance and conflict.  If the information in this post (and accessible through the links) is already familiar to you then this may be a testament to the successes already achieved by the Black Lives Matter movement and other aligned campaigning groups.  However, if you are interested in the issues raised we would encourage you to share them as widely as possible and discuss them with all those you come into contact with (virtually or otherwise) particularly those who might not always share your views (or ours!) or occupy the same physical and online communities as you/us.

 

Call to Action

 

Expressions of support and solidarity risk being empty and even hypocritical if not backed up by action.  We will conclude this series of posts with 8 concrete goals for criminal justice reform, many of which we have borrowed (in paraphrased form) from the recommendations made by the Lammy Review - an independent government commissioned review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME[1]) individuals in the Criminal Justice System, led by David Lammy MP, which reported in 2017[2].

 

We renew our commitment today to actively pursue these goals– if you think there is more we could be doing to achieve them, or you have ideas about how we could improve our impact in reducing racial inequities in the criminal justice system, we’d love to hear from you. 

 

Please try and find a few minutes in your schedule to read the following few posts (if you’re reading this in the first few days after publication, do check back in a couple of days time). If, after reading them, you agree with some or all of our goals for reform then please seek to persuade as many people as you can that they are worth pursuing, starting by writing to your MP and other elected representatives (find your MP’s contact details here https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/).  Feel free to lift sections from this post if they are helpful, or for a more general (less criminal-justice-focussed) letter template imploring the UK government to take racial justice seriously see Amnesty International’s suggested starting point here https://www.amnesty.org.uk/black-lives-matter-write-your-mp).  Keep an eye on this blog and our website for more information about the flaws in our criminal justice system, and for other ways in which you can get involved to help change things for the better.

 

Most obviously, but of essential importance, is that you use your vote in both national and local elections (including the election of Police and Crime Commissioners – see next post) and educate yourself as much as possible in advance about the policies and track records of different parties and candidates on issues of racial equality, so as to use those votes to maximum effect. 

 

[1] We recognise that in many areas it is right to distinguish the experience and treatment of Black people from that of other minority ethnic groups because the scale of the racial injustice against Black people in many criminal justice contexts (e.g. stop and search and use of imprisonment) is greater than that experienced by other minority ethnic groups.  We have tried to draw out these issues in the posts that follow.  We also understand that the acronym leaves little room for individuality or distinction, and we are aware of the limitations of this term, and intend the most inclusive meaning in terms of the range of people of different races and ethnicities signified by ‘BAME’. We recognise that there is huge diversity within this term, the ‘ethnic minority’ category in particular, and in preferences on language.  The term is adopted by the Lammy review itself, which is one of our main points of reference in these posts, so we hope that adopting the same term here in general, despite its limitations, assists in an accurate read-across to points and recommendations in that report.

 

[2] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/643001/lammy-review-final-report.pdf; and for the latest update to the parliamentary Justice Committee on progress made against its recommendations, from March last year, see http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/justice-committee/progress-in-the-implementation-of-the-lammy-reviews-recommendations/oral/98717.html

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