Government Defined Ethnicity vs Self Defined Ethnicity
The code systems used within the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to formally record ethnicity
2 March 2007
MPA briefing paper
This briefing paper has been prepared to inform members and staff. It is not a committee report and no decisions are required.
SummaryThis report briefs MPS members on the systems used by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to record and monitor the ethnicity of people by, asking for their Self-Defined ethnicity and/or visually assessing their ethnic appearance.
Background1. Recommendation 61 of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report (SLIR) stated, “That the Home Secretary, in consultation with Police Services, should ensure that a record is made by police officers of all stops and searches made under any legislative provision. Non-statutory or so-called “voluntary” stops must also be recorded. The record to include the self-defined ethnic identity of the person stopped. A copy of the record shall be given to the person stopped”
2. In March 2002, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) published a “Guide to Self-Defined Ethnicity (SDE) and Descriptive Monitoring”. This document was produced to ensure consistency across police services and other criminal justice agencies and required services to make use of the 2001 Census 16 + 1 system (Appendix 1). Self-defined ethnicity does not relate to visible appearance but to a person’s self-image in relation to his or her own cultural origins. Where it is to be used, a police officer must record the SDE category chosen by the person encountered, even if the category chosen is clearly at odds with the officer’s visual assessment.
3. The police service has recorded details of people’s identity for many years in the course of detection and prevention of crime. This had, up until the requirements of meeting Recommendation 61 and the implementation of the 16+1 framework, made sole use of an assessment of visual appearance made by police officers against criteria contained in a 6+1 system (Appendix 2).
4. The 6+1 codes are essential for rapid identification and also speedy transmission of information by communication systems. Given that the opportunity to stop and ask a suspect for their SDE does not exist in the majority of cases, 6+1 remains the standard for identification.
5. The ACPO guide clarifies that the collection of information on SDE will be in addition to the continuing need to collect the existing information on description derived from the 6+1 categories, in order to maintain national identification systems. Officers are required to request SDE information; the giving of such information is entirely voluntary. In dealing with the public there may be occasions when it will be difficult to obtain the SDE classification, the officer may have recorded the visual assessment using the 6+1 classification, but may not have the SDE of a person because:
- The officer’s presence is urgently required elsewhere
- The situation involves public disorder
- The person did not understand what is required
- The person declined to define their ethnicity.
6. The Home Office requires Section 95 Criminal Justice Act 1991 (a statutory framework providing data about Black and Minority Ethnic people and the criminal justice system) information to be provided in both SDE and visual assessment formats.
7. The following MPS Information Technology systems record self-defined ethnicity using the 16+1 categories:
- CRIS (Crime Recording Information System)
- Stops Database
- Custody System
- Charges and Summons
- Directorate of Professional Standards Complaints system
- Vehicle Procedures Fixed Penalty system
9. Reports to the MPA will therefore be in 16+1 format wherever SDE information is available, in 6+1, where only visual assessments are appropriate, or both, dependent on the issue concerned. However, it is also important to note that on 28 February 2005, following concerns regarding the use of ethnicity codes in public documents, our staff were advised that descriptive words rather than description codes should be used in external documents. No reports should make use of code numbers.
Self Defined Ethnicity (SDE) Code – 16+1
ASIAN OR ASIAN BRITISHA1 INDIAN
A9 ANY OTHER ASIAN BACKGROUND
BLACK OR BLACK BRITISHB1 CARIBBEAN
B9 ANY OTHER BLACK BACKGROUND
MIXEDM1 WHITE & BLACK CARIBBEAN
M2 WHITE & BLACK AFRICAN
M3 WHITE & ASIAN
M9 ANY OTHER MIXED BACKGROUND
CHINESE OR OTHER ETHNIC GROUPO1 CHINESE
O9 ANY OTHER ETHNIC GROUP
W9 ANY OTHER WHITE BACKGROUND
N1 The officer’s presence is urgently required elsewhere
N2 The situation involves public disorder
N3 The person did not understand what is required
N4 The person declined to define their ethnicity
Identity Code (IC) – 6+1 Visual Assessment Ethnicity Code1 WHITE – NORTH EUROPEAN
2 WHITE – SOUTH EUROPEAN
5 CHINESE, JAPANESE, OR OTHER SOUTH EAST ASIAN
6 ARABIC OR NORTH AFRICAN