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Responsive Research Fund

Implementing Anti-Racism in the context of policing: A Review 

This SIPR Responsive Research Fund was approved through the SIPR Executive Committee. The document was prepared by Police Scotland and reviewed by SIPR. 


1. Overview and rationale

Discrimination (racism, homophobia, sexism, misogyny) is a sensitive and complex issue. For many, it is a difficult topic to discuss. Institutional racism and other discrimination (institutional discrimination) as a term can generate a visceral reaction and can be dismissed as being an issue in a workplace. In recent years there has been increased prominence given to the argument that to effectively tackle racism it is necessary to be ‘anti-racist’.  

The former Chief Constable, Sir Ian Livingston, made it clear that those who hold racist views are unwelcome in policing. He emphasised that “it is not enough to be alert to racism and deal with it on a case-by-case basis. Nor is it enough simply to be non-racist. Police Scotland needs to be anti-racist”.  He asserted that “Police Scotland should seek to challenge the existence and workings of racism at all levels – personal, cultural, and institutional”. The current Chief Constable, Jo Farrell, has echoed these sentiments.  

Police Scotland’s Policing Together strategy has a vision which seeks for the service to be “welcoming, inclusive and representative of the communities we serve”. An outcome (1) of this is that the service is “an anti-racist organisation [having] zero tolerance for any discrimination, bullying or harassment”. As one of the largest public sector organisations within Scotland, it is critical that Police Scotland ensures its policies support minority ethnic people moving into, staying and progressing in its employment.  

“Institutional discrimination”, “institutional racism”, and “anti-racism” are terminologies used to describe different forms of systemic oppression and activities to limit the impact of such oppression. These terms are applied in various settings, with a variety of theoretical underpinnings. Given the different applications of discrimination (across, or compounded by different protected characteristics), it is not always clear whether the different terms refer to the same experiences of institutional discrimination, and how they are defined in terms of being actively prevented.  

To support embedding sustainable, long-term change, this project seeks to commission a review of organisational anti-racism conceptualisation and implementation in order to increase Police Scotland’s understanding of these and other related policies, and inform its planned approach.  

2. Details of research proposal for consideration and agreement
  1. Research aims  

To identify, review, and synthesise primary qualitative and quantitative literature on the implementation and assessment of organisational anti-racism policies and practices, with a focus on its application in a police context.  

  1. Research questions  
3. Methodology

This research seeks to investigate the evidence base of, and review, theoretical and applied literature describing forms of anti-racism organisational development and related evaluations therein. The focus is on anti-racism, but, if limited, learning could also be drawn from wider anti-discrimination literature. Electronic databases will be searched to obtain eligible, peer-reviewed, studies including PubMed/MEDLINE, PsychINFO, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL, and ProQuest: dissertations and Thesis Global. These databases, and others where relevant, will be searched for English language publications using concepts related to: 

1.Types of studies to be included

To describe organisational conceptualisation, definition, implementation, and assessment of organisational anti-racism developments, published peer-reviewed articles of existing empirical literature, as well as grey-literature will be considered. Studies that integrate existing literature through analyses of theory or reviews will be included.

2. Examples of potential milestones: 

4. Tangible benefits that Police Scotland will obtain from commissioning this research study

This review seeks to go beyond reviewing anti-racism as a concept and/or policy. the emphasis is on how others (internal and external to policing and to Scotland) have conceived of, implemented, and evaluated activities related to organisational anti-racism development. By ascertaining a rigorous, academically robust, review of the available evidence, this project seeks to support several Police Scotland strategic themes: 


5. Eligibility

Applications are welcome from any researchers (who do not need to be based in Scotland or at a university). However, priority will be given to bids involving staff based at one of the 15 SIPR member universities

We encourage interdisciplinary partnerships and proposals can be submitted by a single institution or across organisations (and can include national and international academic and non-academic partners). 

6. Anticipated timescale(s) for completion

Start date Thursday 29 February 2023, with a completion date of Friday 30 August 2024 

7. Value

A total of £20,000 will be available to one successful team. This is not essential, but we always welcome proposals which include co-funding from other sources.  


A short application form is available to download by clicking the button below. 

8. Application

Applicants are required to complete this application form including the following information: 

A letter of support from Police Scotland (or the relevant external body) should be sought if the project will require access to personnel or data. If so please contact Police Scotland’s Research and Strategy Team ( 

9. Assessment

Applications will be subject to a review stage which will include assessment by an independent panel comprising of senior academics and members of the SIPR Executive Committee, including policing partners. Reviewers will be asked to score against four key criteria: 

10. Criteria

Applications are welcome from researchers with priority given to staff based at one of the 15 SIPR member universities

Projects must be in place to commence the review no later Thursday 29 February 2024. 

Applicants will also be required to report where this funding has enabled the generation of external income as well as where this project has been included as an impact case study. 

11. Indicative Timetable
Timeline/ milestonesDate
Call OpenWed 20 Dec 2023
Deadline for Expression of InterestWed 31 Jan 2024
Closing date for applicationsMon 19 Feb 2024
Grant awardedFri 8 March 2024
Project initiation meetingPrior to Fri 15 March 2024
Latest start dateMon 22 March 2024
Mid-grant update dueFri 28 June 2024
Final draft of report and briefing paper submitted for reviewFri 16 Aug 2024
Completion date – final report acceptedFri 30 Aug 2024

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