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Police Race Relations in England and Wales: Theory, Policy, and Practice

NCJ Number
Police & Society Issue: 7 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 49-75
Date Published
April 2003
27 pages
This article examines key features of police race relations in England and Wales over the past two decades.
Using the sociological perspective that race is a social construction, the article analyzes the ways in which race and race relations are articulated within police forces. Through a historical analysis of the past two decades of policing in England and Wales, the author argues that the concept of “racialization” offers an explanation of how police forces in England and Wales approach the task of multicultural policing. Racialization is defined as the ascription of race as the most significant feature of a relationship or of an event or phenomenon. The article explores how the notion of racialization affects policing practices. In particular, it explores two key moments that have defined police race relations in England and Wales: the 1981 riots in London and the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence. The author argues that while it is important to recognize cultural differences between minority and majority groups, an over-emphasis on multiculturalism may hamper policing efforts by promoting, rather than ameliorating, racial prejudice and discrimination. Notes, references

Date Published: April 1, 2003