Avon & Somerset Police is “institutionally racist”, the force’s top officer has admitted.

Chief Constable Sarah Crew says the constabulary is also likely to have a deep-rooted culture of misogyny, homophobia and discrimination against people with disabilities.

In a statement published on the police website on Friday (June 16), Chief Constable Crew said that the “system is unfair” against Black and ethnic minority people and vowed to put it right.

Her comments come in the wake of Baroness Carey’s review into the Metropolitan Police, published in March, which she said was a “catalyst for us to examine ourselves”, along with Desmond Brown’s damning 2022 report identifying disproportionality in the force’s criminal justice system.

The Chief Constable said Mr Brown’s findings showed “clear evidence of differential experiences in the way we interact with people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, particularly those who are from Black heritage communities”.

She said the two reports were a stark reminder of the need for a “real and profound change” to retain the public’s trust and confidence.

“When it comes to race, I’m in no doubt that, by Baroness Casey’s criteria at least, Avon & Somerset Police is institutionally racist,” Chief Constable Crew said.

“I must accept that the definition fits.

“I think it’s likely to be true for misogyny, homophobia and disability as well, though the gaps in the data don’t give us the sense of scale, impact, or certainty that we have for race.

“I need to be clear – I’m not talking about what’s in the hearts and minds of most people who work for Avon & Somerset Police.

“This is about recognising the structural and institutional barriers that exist and which put people at a disadvantage in the way they interact with policing because of their race.

“Not being racist is no longer good enough, not for me and not for any of us.

“It is no longer okay to be a bystander and do nothing, to be part of a system that disadvantages one group of people over another.

“As for the few who do demonstrate attitudes and behaviours which are racist or discriminatory, we remain on a mission to root them out – they shouldn’t be in policing, and we don’t want them here.”

She said the force was adopting an “explain and reform approach” to stop-and-search and that all officers now received regular refresher training on how to conduct them fairly and respectfully, while the use of body-worn cameras was mandatory.

The Chief Constable said plans were in place to introduce a programme piloted elsewhere called Chance to Change which allows young adults aged 18 to 24 to avoid a criminal conviction in return for admitting guilt and reforming.

She said the force was exploring ways to treat Black victims of crime equally because some did not have the confidence to report offences to the police.