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In our reports or other published statements, we often refer to discrimination and discriminatory conduct.

The context usually makes it clear that what we mean is unlawful discrimination, and our use of this term should always be understood as such.

Discrimination means the recognition or marking of a difference, and sometimes acting so as to make a choice based on an assessment of the merits of that difference.  In other words, it means making a decision between alternatives.  In our daily lives, we make choices all the time.  To take an obvious and very simple example, when we choose to walk instead of drive, we are discriminating against driving.  When we are said to be discriminating in our tastes, it usually means we are being particular in our evaluations and choices.  These are discriminatory actions; there is nothing wrong with them.

When we speak about discrimination in our reports, unless we say otherwise we are talking about discrimination which is against the criminal law, or contrary to the standards of conduct which apply to police officers and police staff.

Unlawful discrimination is dealt with under several pieces of legislation, the principal of which are the Race Relations Acts 1968 and 1976, the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Acts 1975 and 1986, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the Equality Acts 2006 and 2010 and several pieces of employment legislation.

In some respects, the discrimination is criminal; in others, it gives rise to civil remedies.

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