A CAMPAIGN group has described leaflets of a black person dealing drugs issued by Cumbria Police as perpetuating ‘racist stereotypes’.
Cumbria Police have issued an apology after using the image in an anti-drugs leaflet.
The force said it accepted it was a poor choice of imagery and has withdrawn the leaflet from circulation.
However, Anti Racist Cumbria said the image perpetuated ‘racist stereotypes’ and some black people felt ‘watched’ as a direct result of the leaflet.
A spokesman from Anti Racist Cumbria said: “For us, this is not about offence and more about the real impact on people in our communities.
“This kind of imagery perpetuates racist stereotypes and could put our already minoritised black and brown communities under suspicion for no reason.
“We must consider that only around one per cent of our population is black and we have already heard from some local black and brown residents that they fear being more ‘watched’ as a direct result of this leaflet.
“That’s not good for community relations, and should that fear be borne out, for example in increased stop and searches would not be good for locals or visitors alike.
“Tackling county lines is important to our communities and it’s right that Cumbria Police reach out to encourage vigilance however when that imagery implies that county lines dealers are black that could create division where there isn’t any.
“In rural areas with less diverse populations this kind of messaging is even more important.
“We have a good relationship with Cumbria Police and were glad to see swift action from them, we are pleased to be working together to address the issues raised and achieve better outcomes in future.”
A police spokesman said: “The leaflet has been used as part of efforts to gain further information on drug supply within our county.
“Following feedback, the constabulary accept that this was a poor choice of image. Immediate action has been taken to remove this material from further use and additional processes have been put in place to ensure appropriate imagery is used in future material.
“The constabulary apologise for the offence this has caused.”