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First Minister Humza Yousaf says he was 'searched and racially profiled' as Police Scotland admits institutional racism

25 May 2023, 20:13 | Updated: 26 May 2023, 02:44

Scotland&squot;s First Minister says he was "searched and racially profiled" when he was younger, after Police Scotland&squot;s chief constable admitted that the force is institutionally racist.
Scotland's First Minister says he was "searched and racially profiled" when he was younger, after Police Scotland's chief constable admitted that the force is institutionally racist. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Chris Samuel

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf says he was "searched and racially profiled" when he was younger, after Police Scotland's chief constable admitted that the force is "institutionally racist and discriminatory".

Speaking to LBC, Humza Yousaf said growing up in Scotland, his interactions with the police in his youth "were really challenging", adding: "[I'm] somebody who never committed a crime in his life, just got on with his every life, but I think in my life I've been stopped and searched by police well over a dozen times."

The SNP leader recalled an incident that occurred when he was 17 or 18 and was in a car with a friend stopping at a McDonald's after playing football.

Mr Yousaf said he was driving his dad's car, which he was insured on, and was stopped by police who asked for his insurance documents and driver's license.

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"I remember asking them why I was stopped, and they couldn't give me an answer.

"And I just said them at that point: 'is it because of the colour of my skin?' because I can't imagine why else it would be.

Mr Yousaf called the announcement by Police Scotland 'monumental'
Mr Yousaf called the announcement by Police Scotland 'monumental'. Picture: LBC

"And they were very defensive about it, but from that moment, I think for me it became pretty obvious that it was the reason I was getting stopped."

Asked what it was like to feel that the police force was racist as a young man, Mr Yousaf said: "For me, you have to remember the context. I've been a minority my whole life, and I grew up as a child hearing and trying to make sense of the Stephen Lawrence murder... "

The Scottish First Minister said he had experienced institutional racism "overtly" and "often" as a child, and said the experience of "pretty much every person of colour will be the same".

His comments come after the chief constable of Police Scotland admitted the force "is institutionally racist" in a statement Mr Yousaf described as "monumental".

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Sir Iain Livingstone told a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority on Thursday that acknowledging racism, sexism and homophobia were problems for the force was "essential" if they were to be tackled.

The Chief Constable, who has led the force for six years and is due to retire shortly, said that while the term could be "misinterpreted or misrepresented as unfair and personal critical assessments of police officers and police staff as individuals", it was right for him to acknowledge the issues exist within the force

Sir Iain Livingstone
Sir Iain Livingstone. Picture: Alamy

Mr Yousaf commended Sir Iain for making the judgement based evidence that had been gathered, and said his own government should look at whether there are ingrained barriers against people of colour and women.

"I think it would be good for every institution - including the Scottish government, frankly - to look at the evidence of our own organisations," he said.

Mr Yousaf said the government has "structural barriers, structural racism, structural barriers in terms of women progressing, structural barriers in terms of those who are LGBT, and so on and so forth."

He added: "Those structural barriers we absolutely have to dismantle."]

Police Scotland has been approached for comment.

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