There is evidence that people from black communities in England and Wales are disproportionately more likely to have force used against them by police officers, particularly firearms and tasers. For change to happen, we need to understand why this happens. Working at LSE with UCL and the College of Policing, the successful applicant will use advanced quantitative techniques to make an important contribution to this issue of real social and political significance.
Disproportionality is a problem throughout the criminal justice system. A number of studies have highlighted problems relating to courts, policing (e.g. stop-and-search) and prisons. Yet we know little about racial inequity in police use of force.
The role and authority of the police is intimately linked to the use of force. The ability to ‘move along’ individuals and groups, stop and search suspicious persons, intervene in riots and fights, or perhaps most of all, having the power to do so – the very potential for this recourse – is central to the role of the police. The recognised (albeit often unexercised) power to forcefully attend to diverse matters and inflict sanctioned violence, even death, is part and parcel both of effective policing and public support for it.
The police capacity for force is not, therefore, “bad”. Force is both necessary and constructive to effective policing. Yet, trust, legitimacy and moral authority are lost when force is applied inappropriately and, perhaps particularly, disproportionately. Understanding when, how and why this occurs is vital for any effort to improve police-public relations in the affected communities