Racial Violence and Trauma in the UK

It can often be easier to see police brutality as an American issue in order to distance ourselves from the hurt. However, in this thread we would like to highlight why police brutality and racialised violence, is very much a problem in modern day Britain. #BlackLivesMatterUK


This blog aims to inform & educate, though we understand the damaging effect of sharing stories of race-based violence. Content warning: this blog & the pages it links to, contain discussions about racism, police brutality and death which may be upsetting to readers.


As an organisation centred on amplifying BME voices in psychology & psychiatry, when events of late occur it can be hard to know what to say. As a team we have had to navigate feelings of anger, sadness and helplessness.


These events can leave our community feeling hopeless or disempowered and have an impact on mental wellbeing. Our previous blog outlines the negative psychological impact of viewing content regarding incidents of police brutality and race-based violence against Black people.


We also believe that staying informed is key to leading systemic change. There is a problem of police brutality and racialised violence in the UK. In fact, Black people are more than twice as likely to die in police custody compared to other groups. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/52890363#:~:text=Over%20the%20past%2010%20years,body%20responsible%20for%20police%20complaints.


An independent review of deaths in police custody between 1989/1990 and 2008/2009 found that: "a disproportionate number of people from BAME communities (and those with mental health concerns) have died following the use of force". In 2018, the Home Office published the first national statistics on police use of force. Black people were overrepresented, as subject in 12% of incidents but representing only 3.3% of the general population.” See INQUEST media release for more information: https://www.inquest.org.uk/iopc-stats-2019.


Yet, according to the Institute of Race Relations, not a single police officer has been successfully prosecuted, though a large proportion of these deaths involved undue and excessive force and many more were due to a “culpable lack of care.” As of 2017, in the UK there had never been a successful prosecution over death in police custody regarding an individual from a BME background – every case has ended with acquittal. https://qz.com/1117185/ipcc-report-in-the-uk-every-prosecution-over-a-death-in-police-custody-in-the-past-15-years-ended-with-acquittal/


A major collection of these tragedies will be outlined in the film @1500ANDcounting by @Sianaarrgh and @TroyTheDirector, which seeks to investigate deaths in UK police custody.

This sense of injustice to the BME lives lost at the hands of those meant to protect and serve our community, has detrimental effects on our sense of safety.


However, the current climate is not simply due to deaths from police custody. Our timelines have been inundated with news of disproportionate deaths of BME individuals during #COVID-19 and reports of increased race-based violence following #Brexit https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/20/racism-on-the-rise-since-brexit-vote-nationwide-study-reveals


Stories such as rail worker Belly Mujinga who died after being spat at by a man who said he had coronavirus #justiceforBelly or the young Somali refugee Shukri Abdi who died after drowning under suspicious circumstances #SayHerName https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/21/new-bullying-claims-somalian-schoolgirl-drowned


Furthermore, incidents of racism and violence are rife throughout UK universities. For example when Black disabled PhD student from Ghana, Ebenezer Azamati, was dragged out of an event at Oxford University https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/black-blind-student-oxford-university-union-ebenezer-azamati-a9206851.html. Or when students at Warwick University scribbled racist abuse on a Black student’s bananas in university halls https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/apr/08/bananagate-highlights-racism-among-warwick-students


Systemic and institutional racism is perpetuated through the lack of diversity in our curricula and lack of teaching of the UK’s oppressive routes. Important movements which focus on decolonising the curriculum in the UK include @DecoloniseUKC @DecoloniseSTEM @CurriculumBlack.


Finally, we recognise the toll this may have on members of our network. We would like to thank all BME staff working across mental health settings who continue to support vulnerable service users. Please make sure to take care of your own mental health:





If you are looking for ways to support the #BlackLivesMatterUK movement but don’t know how to, donate to charities, sign petitions for justice, and critically educate yourselves. See the link below for more resources from @_nmtr https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1x65xLdIUDWMUl4_nkuD-EeP98UuJ2nuknUDsqUm7R9s/htmlview


Further UK based charities and mental health services to support during #BlackLivesMatterUK. Please tag any others! @baatnman @therapy4bgirls @LBWPWomen @100BMOL @BlackThrive @S_LawrenceTrust @blackmindsmatt @RunnymedeTrust @AdvocacyAcademy.




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