About this conference

The aims of the 2-day conference are twofold: 

  1. To identify and discuss the motivating factors of the pervasive nature of racism, injustice and austerity and their impact on working class communities and;
  2. To bring different campaigns and communities together so that we can begin to collectively address the challenges ahead.

The conference is an initiative of The Monitoring Group, co-organised with the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and supported by Imran Khan and Partners and South Bank University.

Conference programme

Saturday 13 October

9.45 am: Registration

10.15 am: Welcome      

10.30 am: Session 1 - Setting the context: From Windrush to the present crisis

  • Professor Gus John (Award winning writer, campaigner and consultant)
  • Liz Fekete (Director, Institute of Race Relations) 
  • Dr Kehinde Andrews (Birmingham City University)

11.30 am: Refreshment break 

11.45 am: Session 2 - Living in a hostile environment

  • Deborah Coles (INQUEST): Deaths in police and state custody
  • JENGbA: Joint Enterprise
  • Katrina Ffrench (StopWatch): Stop and search
  • The Monitoring Group: Racially motivated crimes
  • Big Brother Watch: Automatic facial recognition

1.00 pm: Lunch

2.00 pm: Session 3 - Policing and collusion in times of crisis

  • Salma Yaqoob (activist)  & Imran Khan (QC): The Prevent agenda
  • Stafford Scott (The Monitoring Group): The Government’s bogus war on gangs
  • Amnesty International: Trapped inside the matrix
  • Patrick Williams (Manchester Metropolitan Universy) and Temi Mwale (social entrepreneur, educator and activist): Voices from the matrix

3.45 pm: Refreshment break

4.00 pm: Session 4 - Understanding the Government response

  • Dr Omar Khan (Runnymede Trust): The May review on race disparity
  • David Lammy MP: The Lammy review
  • Speaker TBC (MOPAC)
  • Amelia Gentleman (The Guardian)

5.15 pm: Closing comments

Sunday 14 October 

9.45 am: Registration

10.15 am: Welcome

10.35am: Session 5 - An agenda for change: Are public inquiries a route to justice? 

  • Michael Mansfield QC: An overview of public judicial inquiries and their impact on society
  • Liam Wray & Eamonn McCann (Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign)
  • Tottenham Rights: Lord Gifford’s the People’s Inquiry on Broadwater Farm
  • Sheila Coleman & Becky Shah (campaigners and activists): Hillsborough, our fight for justice & truth 
  • Imran Khan QC: The Stephen Lawrence Public Inquiry and the Grenfell Inquiry
  • Phillippa Kauffmann QC: The Undercover Policing Inquiry 
  • Justice4Grenfell 
  • Voices from the Undercover Policing Inquiry

1.00 pm: Lunch

2.00 pm: Session 6 - The role of whistle blowers in the pursuit of justice

  • Peter Francis (ex-Special Demonstration Squad police officer, now whistle-blower)
  • Neil Woods (ex-undercover police officer)
  • Baroness Jenny Jones (Green Party Peer and campaigner)
  • Janet Alder (sister of Christopher Alder and justice campaigner)
  • Alistair Morgan (brother of murdered private detective, Daniel Morgan)

3.30 pm: Feedback from participants and delegates 

4.00 pm: Panel discussion on building resistance and the way forward

4.45 pm: Closing remarks

Context for this conference

Britain is at a cross road, its citizens tormented by an uncertain future.

The current state of racism in the UK is alarming. There is no sphere where racism does not prevail: at the workplace, in schools and universities, on the streets, in the playgrounds and within public & private institutions.

The government-led strategy of creating a ‘hostile environment’ towards vulnerable new arrivals has also been applied against settled Black communities with devastating dehumanising consequences.

The treatment of Black and Asian individuals in the Criminal Justice system adds another depressing layer to the current discriminatory experiences of stop and search and deaths in custody. In his review, David Lammy warned, 'the disproportionate number of BAME young people in the justice system is a social time bomb. It is beyond time to stop talking about the problem and to act'. The use of the discriminatory 'Gangs Matrix' by police, coupled with moral panic around violent crimes, has reinforced negative stereotypes against black working class youth. It has done little to halt brutal and senseless deaths on the streets.

The spike in ‘hate’ crimes (over 70 per cent of these are racially motivated) witnessed during and after the Brexit campaign has not receded. In some parts of Europe, extreme-right and anti-immigration parties have become partners in government. This poses a new challenge for us in the UK where forces of nativism and fascism are also beginning to gain strength.

Just like the Irish before, Muslim communities today are collectively viewed as 'suspect'. So too are thousands of women and men involved in peaceful protests, trade union activities, and Black and Asian justice campaigns – the revelations they have been spied upon by 'undercover' police officers, some of whom were specifically targeted and lured into sexual relationships, are deeply 'shocking'.

And what of the hard fought human and social rights for workers, women, minorities and poorer sections of our society? Will they be preserved in Post-Brexit Britain? Community support in UK’s diverse working-class areas has been decimated by austerity, making it even harder to hold the state to account. The ominous signs are there to be read. Do we need a weather presenter to tell us which way the wind is blowing?

It is time to build and act on a new vision for the future.

As a first step, we need to learn the lessons of past and current struggles. The event will be addressed by a representative mix of campaigners and experts. It promises to be unique, we hope an inspiring, event, bringing together families, lawyers and activists involved in seminal campaigns that changed Britain – such as those closely associated with Public Inquiries on Bloody Sunday, Stephen Lawrence, Hillsborough, Broadwater Farm, Undercover Policing and Grenfell.