Response to the policing of the crisis

Exploring the policing of minoritised people and communities in the wake of Covid 19 and Black Lives Matter protests.

Researchers: Dr Patrick Williams, Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Dr Scarlet Harris, Dr Lisa White

With the introduction of the Coronavirus Act (2020) – an attempt to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission in the current crisis – we have witnessed an escalation of police powers. Related to this, there has been a marked and racially disproportionate increase in use of force by the police and wider law enforcement agencies, including stop and search practice, the administering of financial penalties, Taser usage and physical restraint tactics.

These developments paradoxically coincide with the emergence of national and global Black Lives Matter protests: a direct response to racist policing practices and the harms experienced and endured by minoritized people and communities. Historically, fatal interactions with the police have been accompanied by official narratives that move to individualise the causes of violent police interactions and serve to absolve the police of responsibility.

In response, this study explores the first-hand accounts of the policed alongside family and media narratives to facilitate an urgent reappraisal of police violence. In collaboration with national campaigns and community groups/organisations, the project aims to surface the highly personalised and traumatising experience of being policed paying particular attention to the factors that precipitate and drive up police encounters and use of force for minority ethnic people.

Our methods unashamedly foreground the narratives of the policed – utilising in-depth interviews and conversations with participants. Further, we will assess the predominance and relevance of the public health discourses as a strategy to legitimise increased surveillance and the over-policing of minoritised groups and communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Articles and reports

A threat to public safety: policing, racism and the Covid-19 pandemic - Scarlet Harris, Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Patrick Williams, Lisa White, Institute of Race Relations report, 2021.

A Collision of Crises: Racism, policing, and the COVID-19 pandemic - Scarlet Harris, Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Patrick Williams, Lisa White, CoDE/Runnymede Trust Covid Briefing, 2021

Cops on campus are a threat to students of colour - Remi Joseph-Salisbury in Red Pepper, December 2021.