To read this content please select one of the options below:

“The UK is not innocent”: Black Lives Matter, policing and abolition in the UK

Remi Joseph–Salisbury (Department of Sociology, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Laura Connelly (University of Salford, Manchester, UK)
Peninah Wangari-Jones (The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 27 July 2020

Issue publication date: 25 January 2021




The purpose of this article is to show that racism is not only a US problem. Rather, racism is endemic and pervasive in the UK context, manifesting at every level of policing. From stop and search, to deaths after police contact, the authors highlight long-standing and widespread racist disparities in UK policing. The authors therefore pierce through any delusions of UK “post-racialism” in order to show that, as protesters have reminded us, “the UK is not innocent”.


In this piece, the authors reflect on the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. Whilst the catalyst was the death of George Floyd in the United States, the authors explore what the protests mean in the UK context. To do so, the authors draw upon recent high-profile examples of police racism, before situating those events within a wider landscape of racist policing.


Demonstrating that UK policing has to be understood as institutionally racist, the authors suggest that responses to police racism need to be radical and uncompromising – tweaks to the system are not enough. The authors therefore look towards defunding and abolition as ways in which one can begin to seek change.


The piece takes up the challenges set by this Black Lives Matter moment and offers a critical take on policing that seeks to push beyond reformism whilst also highlighting the realities of UK racism.



Joseph–Salisbury, R., Connelly, L. and Wangari-Jones, P. (2021), "“The UK is not innocent”: Black Lives Matter, policing and abolition in the UK", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 21-28.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles