A Critical Assessment of the Black Lives Matter Movement in the United Kingdom


  • Owen Hodgkinson Staffordshire University
  • Luke Telford Staffordshire University
  • James Treadwell Staffordshire University




The death of George Floyd in May 2020 in the United States of America (USA) generated protests across the world, fronted by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The BLM movement cast the killing of Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin as emblematic of the criminal justice system’s (CJS) long history of racism. Whilst the core message that Black Lives Matter is indisputable, noble and a worthy rallying call, little scholarly attention has been given to the movement’s underlying philosophy and aims, particularly in relation to the CJS in Britain. This article explicates Britain’s BLM movement by considering four core themes – (a) critical race theory and British social science, (b) the policing of black people in Britain, (c) the omission of social class from the analyses of BLM scholars and activists in Britain and, (d) the aims of Britain’s BLM movement. It suggests that the BLM movement potentially offers a flawed understanding of racism within the CJS. The paper also critiques and problematizes BLM’s use of the terms ‘white privilege and ‘whiteness’. It closes with a critical discussion of the movement’s aims, including defunding and abolishing the police, suggesting that critical engagement with both CRT and BLM should form a core part of criminological debate.

Author Biographies

Luke Telford, Staffordshire University

Dr Luke Telford is a lecturer in criminology at Staffordshire University. Luke has published on issues surrounding the rise of nationalism, labour markets, and the covid-19 pandemic. 

James Treadwell, Staffordshire University

Dr James Treadwell is a Proffesor of Criminology at Staffordshire University. He has published widely on sociological and criminological issues, including the rise of the far-right, illegal drug markets and imprisonment.



How to Cite

Hodgkinson, O., Telford, L., & Treadwell, J. (2021). A Critical Assessment of the Black Lives Matter Movement in the United Kingdom. Journal of Contemporary Crime, Harm, and Ethics, 1(1), 88-107. https://doi.org/10.19164/jcche.v1i1.1153