West Midlands Police boss sorry for things force 'got wrong'

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Dave Thompson, West Midlands Chief Constable
Image caption,
Chief Constable Dave Thompson said he recognised the force was not "free from bias, discrimination or even racism"

The boss of West Midlands Police has apologised to black communities for things the force "got wrong".

Chief Constable Dave Thompson said he recognised the force was not "free from bias, discrimination or even racism".

Speaking at a police board meeting following the death of George Floyd in the US he said he understood the "anger towards the uniform" more now.

"Policing is judged on its ability to police this unequal society fairly," he said.

"This is a tough ask but one we sign up to," he added.

He said that over the last few weeks "the voices of black people, often young, who have made powerful points about their lived experience of discrimination" had made him take notice.

"I apologise to our black communities for the things West Midlands Police has got wrong over the years in how we have policed them," he said.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Protesters hold signs during a Black Lives Matter demonstration outside West Midlands Police headquarters

Force data presented to the monthly strategic policing and crime board on Tuesday, showed analysis of 11,064 stop and searches between 1 January and 31 May.

Of those searches, just over a quarter (26.9%) resulted in an arrest, a knife seizure, or other "positive outcome".

Analysis found use of force against black people was disproportionate (19% of incidents) when looked at against the 2011 census which showed the proportion of black people living in the force area was 6%.

The report concluded: "Use of force is disproportionate on the black community rather than the wider BAME community."

Image caption,
Marcel Simpson said he welcomed to apology

Marcel Simpson, who is a mentor for the Continental Star football club in Perry Barr, next to a West Midlands Police custody block, said his mental health has suffered after being repeatedly stopped and searched by officers.

"I've been stopped coming here from church once - not that they could tell I was coming from church while in my car," he said.

"Fear comes over you because of all the things you are aware of that have happened in the past."

But he said he welcomed the chief constable's apology.

"I think it's a great statement. It's an acknowledgment that something has not quite been right," he added.

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