Policing young people in Wales: Campaigners call for public inquiry and police reforms

Race Alliance Wales (RAW) set out to capture the voices and experiences of racially minoritised young people in Wales during a seismic period in relation to policing in 2021.

Inspired by the powerful voices and experiences of young people, we are proud to launch our latest peer-led research report, ‘WHAT’S GOING ON?’ – Experiences of young racialised people of policing in Wales, with 15 recommendations to, Welsh Government, the police and social justice organisations.

Here in Wales, there are many accounts of racialised individuals receiving unjust, racist, and at times violent treatment from the police. These include the cases of Christopher Kapessa and Siyanda Mngaza – which have been long campaigns led by their families with significant public support. Even during the period in which this research was conducted during 2021, two young Black men, Moyied Bashir and Mohamud Hassan, died following police contact and over a year later, there are still many outstanding questions from friends, family, and communities.

So, we decided to investigate, what’s going on? We recruited peer-researchers centralising the voices of young people to share their first-hand experiences of policing in Wales.

According to our research we found evidence of:

Code switching
When directly confronted by or in the vicinity of police, our respondents spoke of ‘code-switching’ and ‘survival techniques’ – the learnt need to act, speak or dress differently to avoid undue attention from the police – and how this made some feel ‘paranoid’ when in the company of police.

Unfairly targeted
We heard many examples of individuals feeling explicitly targeted due to their race or ethnicity, when White friends doing the same thing in the same place were not. Experiences of being unfairly targeted by police had stayed with our young respondents leading to a long-lasting distrust in the police, as well as a negative and lasting impact on their own mental health and well-being.

“Every single person at that party was white. Apart from me, yeah, and probably like one other girl. And the main people that were actually making the noise and being the loudest. None of them got searched. I don’t think there was a reason to search me at all.”

(Anonymous, Young research participant)
A Peer-led Research report by Race Alliance Wales

Lack of trust and accountability – Who polices the police?
Lack of accountability was another recurring theme – with concerns about the efficacy of bodies such as the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

“You don’t know whether the police. The police officer you’re going to get is going be like a nice, normal police officer doing their job properly. Or somebody’s who’s going to be. You know. Prejudiced.”

(Anonymous, Young research participant)
A Peer-led Research report by Race Alliance Wales

So, what will solve the problem? Who speaks out against the police and for our young people in Wales’ political, public and media spaces? Well, it is our hope that this report has enabled our young people to speak for themselves.

While criminal justice is not a devolved power, Welsh Government can still utilise its powers to address race inequalities relating to policing. Additionally, Police and Crime Commissioners can offer opportunities for members of the public to shape services provided by the police in their area.

Therefore, Race Alliance Wales advocates 15 recommendations for change including a Welsh Government inquiry into policing, and police reforms.

FULL REPORT: ‘WHAT’S GOING ON?’ – Experiences of young racialised people of policing in Wales

#WhatsGoingOn #AntiRacistWales

Date: September 2022
Media enquiries: Assia Kayoueche (Communications, Campaigns and Membership Officer):
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