November 14, 2020


The irony of 9 white men and women and a sole Asian man examining and reporting on the parlous conditions that Black people living in the UK deal with every day, seems to have escaped the authors of this Report. Demonstrating the point that white supremacy prevents access to Black people in many important spaces, including spaces where they are the subject under discussion, not one member of the group could be described as Black.

Those men and women belong to this group: the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

The Joint Committee

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is appointed by the House of Lords and the House of Commons to consider matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom (but excluding consideration of individual cases); proposals for remedial orders, draft remedial orders and remedial orders.

This inquiry is focused on Black people in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. It concentrates on those from three broad ethnicity groups, Black African, Black Caribbean and Black other, including mixed-Black.

The Joint Committee has a maximum of six Members appointed by each House, of whom the quorum for any formal proceedings is two from each House.

Committee Members at the time the Report was published

House of Commons

Harriet Harman QC MP (Labour, Camberwell and Peckham) (Chair),  Fiona Bruce MP (Conservative, Congleton), Karen Buck MP (Labour, Westminster North)
Joanna Cherry QC MP (Scottish National Party, Edinburgh South West), Pauline Latham MP (Conservative, Mid Derbyshire), Dean Russell MP (Conservative, Watford

House of Lords
Lord Brabazon of Tara DL (Conservative) Lord Dubs (Labour), Baroness Ludford (Liberal Democrat) Baroness Massey of Darwen (Labour), Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE (Crossbench), Lord Trimble (Conservative).

Key findings

Human Rights

Over three quarters of Black people in the UK do not believe their human rights are equally protected compared to white people.


While the majority of both men and women do not believe their human rights are equally protected compared to white people in the UK this is felt far more strongly by women. Over 82% of women disagreed that their human rights are equally protected, compared with 69% of men. This differential between men and women’s views was evident in relation to all the issues covered in the polling; also arising in the context of views about the police and the NHS. Women felt that their rights were less protected in all domains. [Paragraph 20, page 9].


Over 60% of Black people in the UK do not believe their health is as equally protected by the NHS compared to white people.

paragraph 21, page 10

Women (78%) are substantially more likely than men (47%) to not believe that their health is equally protected by the NHS compared to white people.

The death rate for Black women in childbirth is therefore five times higher than for white women and it is increasing year on year.


Black pregnant women are eight times more likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid-19


In 2016/17, known rates of Mental Health Act 1983 detention in the Black or Black British group were over four times, and rates of Community Treatment Order use were almost nine times, those of the white group.


Legal system

85% of black people are not confident that they would be treated the same as a white person by the police.


Black women (91%) are more likely than Black men (77%) not to feel they would be treated the same as a white person by the police.

In 2018/2019 Black people were 9.5 times more likely than White people to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales.


In 2018/2019 Black people in England and Wales were more than five times as likely to have force used against them by police as White people and were subject to the use of Tasers at almost eight times the rate of White people.


As of June 2020, 7.7% of the prison population were Black despite the comprising 3.4% of the population in England and Wales.


Despite only making up 4% of the 10–17 year-old general population, Black children were over four times more likely than white children to be arrested;


Despite only making up 4% of the 10–17 year-old general population, Black children were almost three times more likely to be given a caution or sentence than white children;


Despite only making up 4% of the 10–17 year-old general population, Black children were remanded in custody at a higher rate than white children, accounting for a third (33%) of children remanded in youth custody


Despite only making up 4% of the 10–17 year-old general population, Black children were given custodial sentences at a higher rate than white children


Despite only making up 4% of the 10–17 year-old general population, the number of children in youth custody from a Black background has increased by 6% in the last year, and now accounts for 28% of the youth custody population.


In England and Wales between April 2018 and March 2019 there were four stop and searches for every 1,000 white person, compared with 38 for every 1,000 Black person.


Powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020 allow the police to detain anyone who is potentially infectious. The use of this suite of new powers that are highly invasive into the private lives of individuals, have heightened the issue of over-policing still further. The number of Black people being stopped and searched by the police has increased dramatically, and disproportionately compared to white people, since the legislation came into force. The Metropolitan Police Service carried out just under 42,779 stop and searches during May 2020. 16,482 (39%) of the searches were carried out on Black males and 14,210 (33%) on White males. These figures equate to a rate of 27.6 per 1,000 population for Black males compared to a rate of 5.9 per 1,000 population for White males.


This showed that Black people were issued with a [Fixed Penalty Notice under the Covid-19 regulations] at a rate 1.8 times higher than white people 


Electoral system

25% of Black voters in Great Britain are not registered to vote compared to a 17% average across the population. 

Failures to secure Black people’s human rights

Overarching issue: lack of implementation of report recommendations

The Reports states that:

“A succession of reports in recent years, have investigated, and found, structural racial inequalities in state institutions and processes, from the Home Office to the Youth Justice System. These include:

31. A related problem is that the same issues arise time and time again in different contexts, but lessons are not learned and applied consistently across the board. For example, the lack of representation of Black people at senior levels of organisations is an issue raised consistently in reviews relating to race equality. It crosses all sectors; the judiciary,27 the police,28 the civil service,29 and Parliament,30 to name but a few. In addition to better implementation of these recommendations, a more strategic and joined-up approach is needed to ensure progress can be driven forward across the board rather than in pockets.

32. The failure to act in response to reports and inquiries erodes the trust of Black people in the state and further compounds the impact of discrimination and denial of human rights. Rt Hon David Lammy MP told us that he felt the result of this would be increasing anger and frustration among the Black community.

“What happens is what we see on the streets of the United States. They take the law into their own hands. People get very angry and frustrated. I fear and worry for the future if we do not get to a place where we are not just kicking these issues into the long grass but are actually comprehensively implementing reviews that have been recommended after long and careful deliberation.”

33. So, why has more progress not been made in recent years? Listening to the evidence from our witnesses who had either authored or been instrumental in instigating reports on race inequality over many years, it is hard to escape the conclusion that what has been lacking is the sustained political will over successive governments to prioritise implementation of recommendations. At best this can be viewed as negligent, at worst there is a sense that these reviews, which are undertaken by excellent people in good faith, are used by governments as a way of avoiding taking action to redress legitimate grievances.

34. Linked to the lack of political focus is the lack of a clear cross-Government strategy on race equality, under which recommendations can be taken forward. In his evidence to us Lord Woolley expressed his belief that a window of opportunity now exists in which real progress can be made, he told us “out of all this awfulness there is a hint of optimism if we grasp it.”This hope will only be realised with clear and unambiguous political focus and a coherent, cross-Government race equality strategy, with clear timelines and targets.

35. Commissioning reports and failing to implement them intensifies disaffection and lack of confidence in the Government on race issues. Government must implement the findings of previous reports that have been commissioned.

36. The Government has established the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities which is expected to report before the end of 2020. Previous inquiries and work of the Race Disparity Unit have identified the problems and pointed to solutions; the focus of this new Commission must therefore not be further fact-finding but on taking action to reduce inequalities and secure Black people’s human rights. This should take the form of a comprehensive cross Government race equality strategy.

You may want to view the information presented here in context. If you would like to read the Report, you can find it here:

Recent posts
Papal Bull of 1455, Romanus Pontifex
This Bull authorised Portugal to raid African Kingdoms, territories and land, capture and enslave the inhabitants and seize their natural and mineral resources, under the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church.
The Reign of Elizabeth II
A summary of the reign of Elizabeth II and events that took place during her reign