Plaid Cymru calls for inquiry into structural racism in Wales

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The Welsh Government is to consider setting up an inquiry into structural racism in Wales.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said Welsh Government plans to get more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people into public service had been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But he would “think about” establishing an inquiry into racism in Wales, following the death of George Floyd in the US, which has led to a wave of protests and violent demonstrations.

He described the footage of a white police officer kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck in Minneapolis as “utterly distressing”.

Mr Drakeford made the comment as he answered questions in the Senedd from Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, who had called for a “wide-ranging inquiry into the roots and remedies of structural racism and racial disadvantage” in Wales.

“There is structural disadvantage for black people in America, but Adam Price is right for us not to simply think that it exists elsewhere,” the First Minister said.

“It exists in our own communities as well. And at the worst of it, it is straightforward racism, it is people deliberately behaving towards others on the basis of the colour of their skin.

“But there is disadvantage for people from those communities which is less overt than that – it is not racism in that deliberate sense, but it’s embedded in the way that institutions operate and decisions get made.”

“We had a root and branch review of our appointments process in the second half of last year, and we were on the point of introducing a radically different approach to those appointments when the coronavirus crisis struck,” he said.

“It’s one of my ambitions to be able to bring that piece of work back to the front burner, from the back burner, as soon as we are able to in the crisis.”

Mr Price said that according to the Wales Governance Centre, Wales had a prison incarceration rate more racially disproportionate than England, which was more racially disproportionate than the US.

“The cruel murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in the US this week has reignited the debate around racism on both sides of the Atlantic,” Mr Price said.

“Structural racism lies at the heart of this injustice.

“And that structural racism could be one of the reasons we are seeing a much higher incidence of deaths from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities as result of Covid-19.

“If we truly believe that Black Lives Matter, we have to acknowledge and address structural racism here in Wales too.

“The Welsh Government must commit to a wide-ranging inquiry into the roots and remedies of structural racism here in Wales.”

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