Structural inequality refers to forms of inequality which are products of systemic and structural arrangements. Caused by an imbalance of political and economic powers, structural inequalities can make it difficult for those impacted to fully access social, economic, justice, health and political institutions.
‘It isn’t enough to focus on improving the rules of the game when the playing field itself is inherently uneven’ Structurally Unsound, 2019
Experiences of inequality are specific to the individual; however, members of particular communities are more likely to experience its negative implications. Groups include, but are not limited to; the LGBTQI+ community, minority ethnic groups, refugees and asylum seekers and people with disabilities. Groups impacted by structural inequality often have a disproportionate rate of contact with the police, with some groups interacting with the police frequently, and others remaining hidden from local policing activity.
This spotlight briefing highlights a number of groups whose interaction with the police may be particularly shaped by their experiences of inequality and promotes some of the promising work being undertaken nationally to address the potential barriers to the police service faced by these groups.
It should be noted that there is a small sample of safeguarding reviews related to the specific communities considered within this briefing, and whilst practice may have moved on within the forces represented, it is important that this learning is shared with other forces.
The briefing highlights three key learning points:
- The importance of building relationships and trust with communities
- Professional curiosity and professional challenge
- Multi-agency working and escalation of concerns
The briefing also contains links to useful documents and resources.