The UK has a proud tradition of peaceful protest and it is a right of all citizens. I understand why so many feel such a clear desire to make their voices heard after the death of George Floyd. I was incredibly distressed by the footage of what happened to George Floyd in the lead up to his death in police-custody and the opportunity to spread the awareness of these issues is welcome.
However, during the current pandemic it is important those that do protest do so while observing social distancing. Under the rules, gatherings of more than six people are not allowed. Those who fail to abide by these rules are putting their lives and the lives of others at risk - we should be in no doubt about the threat of this awful virus.
I am aware of the recent protest in Lytham, which I believe were largely carried out in accordance with the social distancing regulations and in a peaceful manner. I am pleased that local people were able to made their voices heard in a responsible fashion, making a clear effort to stay a safe distance apart and without the unacceptable vandalism and disorder which overshadowed some other protests.
At the heart of these protests is the desire to eradicate racism and racial divisions that blight US society, but which also exist in the UK. It is also incumbent on us to use this moment to look with renewed vigour at how black people and other ethnic minorities are treated here in the UK. Racism is abhorrent. It has no place in our communities and we all have a part to play in tackling it. The wealth of diversity across our country should be something to be celebrated.
Please be assured that the Government is working hard to reduce racial inequalities, particularly through a broad educational curriculum and diversity within our police forces and public services.
I am pleased that all schools have the freedom to teach Black history and issues from primary school age onwards, as part of the history curriculum but also in subjects such as English and citizenship. I am also encouraged that the national curriculum provides a number of opportunities for pupils to be taught about different societies and how different groups have contributed to the development of Britain, and that this can include the voices and experience of Black people.
The UK has implemented measures to ensure accountability and transparency across police forces. This includes regular inspections of police engagement with communities, frequent publication of data on police powers and strengthening the police complaints system.
The Government has been clear that disciplinary and criminal proceedings may follow any serious breach of the standards expected of police officers.
Recent figures from the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that 70 per cent of black people aged 16 and over in England and Wales said they had confidence in their local police. The recruitment of 20,000 officers provides our country with a unique opportunity to address under representation in recruitment and support the police to become even more representative of the communities they serve.