Macpherson Report (1999).

2264 words - 9 pages

On Thursday 22 April 1993, Stephen Lawrence an 18 year old A-Level student, and his friend Duwayne Brooks were making their way home after spending the day together. As the pair rushed to catch a bus in Eltham, a Southeast London suburb, they were confronted by a gang of white youths. These white youths subsequently set upon Stephen and stabbed him. He collapsed just 200 yards away in a pool of blood and died. His death was formally recorded the next morning by Dr Richard Shepard as "haemorrhage resulting from stab wounds."The police investigation that followed, or rather the lack of it has since been exposed as the most serious of threats to cohesive society today. This rather inept police investigation led to a public inquiry. The Lawrence Public Inquiry chaired by Sir William Macpherson has raised allegations of systematic corruption and institutionalised racism within the British Police. It placed both the police and the Criminal Justice System as a whole on public trial.The Macpherson Report was published in February 1999. It is the most damning indictment of policing ever published. Within it is contained a complete catalogue of professional incompetence, which highlights with hindsight how Lawrence's murderers went free. With its 70 wide-ranging recommendations it is hailed as a watershed for race issues in Britain. This essay will analyse the main recommendations of The Report, which were designed to ensure that the criminal justice system responded more adequately to the needs of ethnic minority communities.One of the main recommendations of the Macpherson report called for a Freedom of Information Act. Recommendation 9 proposed "that a Freedom of Information Act should apply to all areas of policing, both operational and administrative, subject only to the 'substantial harm' test for withholding disclosure." This would cover all information about policing, with "no class of police information excluded wholesale." Macpherson proposed that any such information should only be withheld where its disclosure would cause "substantial harm." However, the government has rejected elements of this issue, they propose to exclude two classes of police information from the Act. They wish to exclude information regarding investigations or prosecutions, also information regarding police informers. This they said was to be required because of:"the need to avoid prejudicing effective law enforcement, the need to protect witnesses and informers, the need to maintain the independence of the judicial and prosecution processes, and the need to preserve the role of the criminal court as the sole forum for determining guilt."Other information will be accessible to the public, but this is to be based on a test of harm. The governments response here simply states that this will be "an appropriate" harm test.This Freedom of Information Act was initially propose by the government in their white paper of December 1997 to cover the public sector as a whole at all...

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