Stephen Lawrence Action Plan on track

The Stephen Lawrence Action Plan, produced by Merton Council, following the publication of the McPherson Report, has announced its second comprehensive yearly results.

By producing the Plan, Merton stated its position on racial equality, with the 77 recommendations confirming Merton’s fundamental commitment to racial equality.

To date significant steps have been made in many areas, 29 of the 77 recommendations have been fully implemented, 11 are in the initial stages and the remaining 37 are underway or well underway. There has been action relating to all 77 recommendations, however implementing some recommendations requires 3 or 4 lines of action which may be at different stages, thus affecting overall progress.

Progress on some recommendations has been slower than hoped, the Council workforce remains unreflective of the local community and despite ongoing marketing, there has been a decrease, rather than an increase in the number of ethnic minority teachers employed at Merton schools.

Diane Bailey, Head of Scrutiny and Policy at Merton said:

“The Plan provided an ambitious target for Merton, as well as representing a fundamental commitment to racial equality. Significant progress has been made, and we are continuing to build on this.”

A number of the recommendations have been fully implemented, including:

· The Council has updated its Equal Opportunities Policy; the original policy was 10 years old and focused mainly on employees. The new Policy now focuses on both employees and service delivery.
· A staff prayer room has been created and is in daily use
· A recent staff attitude survey showed improved confidence among staff around equality issues in the workplace, 80% of staff felt confident to report harassment compared to 40% in 2001.
· In autumn 2001 a new policy on graffiti was introduced, reducing the time for removal of racist graffiti from 48 hours to 24, in the majority of cases the removal is quicker than 24 hours.
· The complaints system was enhanced in order to pick up, and deal, with issues such as discrimination and harassment.
· The Council has signed up to the DETR’s Code of Practice for Social Landlords. Which means Merton as a social landlord has the responsibility of tackling racial harassment.
· Public perception of the Council as one that tackles racism has increased from 27% in 2001 to 35% in 2002.