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The Stephen Lawrence Case

2. The Murder of Stephen Lawrence

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In this lecture, we think about Stephen’s murder and its immediate aftermath, focusing in particular on: (i) police malpractice during the initial investigation, especially the decision to ignore crucial evidence and the targeting of Stephen’s parents and eyewitness Duwayne Brooks; (ii) the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to charge Stephen’s suspected attackers and the Lawrence family’s subsequent fight for justice, culminating in a failed private prosecution in 1997; (iii) two crucial reports from 1997 – an inquest which found that the attack was racially motivated, and a Police Complaints Authority report which admitted shortcomings but denied racist conduct by the police.


In this course, Dr Anthony Gunter (The Open University) discusses the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence in a racist attack in London on 22 April 1993, and why the case is considered a watershed moment in the history of race relations in Britain. In the first lecture, we set the context by exploring issues around race and policing since 1945, and especially the notion that BAME communities are “overpoliced and underprotected”. In the second lecture, we look at police malpractice during the investigation into Stephen’s murder and the Lawrence family’s fight for justice. Next, we explore the Lawrence Inquiry, commissioned in 1997, its recommendations, and its hugely important finding that the investigation into Stephen’s murder was marred by “institutional racism”. In the fourth and final lecture, we consider the legacies of the Lawrence Inquiry, including changes to the law and police practices, before tempering this by noting some persistent problems in the policing of BAME communities.


Dr Anthony Gunter is Senior Lecturer and Programme Lead for Childhood and Youth Studies at the Open University. His research focuses on black youth subcultures and the policing of BAME communities. He is author of Race, Gangs and Youth Violence: Policy, Prevention and Policing (2017) and Growing Up Bad? Black Youth, ‘Road’ Culture and Badness in an East London Neighbourhood (2010).

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APA style

Gunter, A. (2021, October 26). The Stephen Lawrence Case - The Murder of Stephen Lawrence [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Gunter, A. "The Stephen Lawrence Case – The Murder of Stephen Lawrence." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Oct 2021,

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