On the 22nd April 1993 Stephen Lawrence, an ordinary boy with a dream of becoming an architect was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack by people that didn’t even know him. He was just a black face in the wrong place at the wrong time. The attack caught the attention of Nelson Mandela, who said this:
‘I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.’
After the initial police investigation, five suspects were arrested but not convicted. A public inquiry into the handling of Stephen’s case was held in 1998, leading to the publication of the Macpherson Report, which has been called ‘one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain’.
A total of 70 recommendations designed to show “zero tolerance” for racism in society were made. They included measures not just to transform the attitude of the police towards race relations and improve accountability but also to get the civil service, NHS, judiciary and other public bodies to respond and change.
It led to profound cultural changes in attitudes to racism, to the law and to police practice. It also paved the way for a greater understanding of discrimination of all forms and new equalities legislation. Eventually, in 2011 a trial began that found two men guilty of the murder of Stephen.
The Stephen Lawrence Trust says 22 April marks an opportunity for everyone to think about the part they can play in creating a society in which all can flourish. “It is an opportunity for children and young people have their voices heard, make the changes they’d like to see and create a society that treats everyone with fairness and respect.”
With this is mind, here are a few things that we doing here at the IPO to make changes happen:
We are reviewing our recruitment processes and data to identify areas for improvement.
We are reviewing the language and imagery we are using on our policies, publications, websites and social media.
We are working with our staff networks to engage them with our actions, and they also feed into our Inclusion action plan.
We are looking at our outreach to support future representation at the IPO.
We are running a data campaign to look at things such as diversity declaration rates and people survey results, these also feed into our Inclusion action plan.
We have a Respect at Work campaign, and the Deal, ensuring a zero-tolerance to bullying and harassment.
Please click here if you’d like to read more about Stephen Lawrence Day.
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