Best Use of Law

Preventing Greater Manchester Police’s discriminatory Carnival banning letters


In August 2023, Kids of Colour announced that, following collaborative work with Liberty, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) will not be sending letters to individuals banning them from attending Manchester Caribbean Carnival this year. This has been a discriminatory practice since 2006, stopped short by Kids of Colour’s and Liberty’s threats of legal action.

The Campaign

Since 2006, dozens of people have received letters from GMP ahead of Manchester Carnival, informing them that they have been banned from attending based on vague criteria.  In 2022, the letters were brought to Kids of Colour’s attention when they impacted young people in their network, and Novara Media’s reporting found GMP’s actions were likely ‘unlawful’.

In May 2023, supported by Liberty, Kids of Colour sent an initial letter to GMP and Manchester City Council (MCC), raising concerns that the bans were discriminatory. A disproportionate number of Black people and other people of colour were targeted, and vague, heavily racialised criteria were used to justify the bans, specifically ones that related to ‘gangs’.

In June 2023, with no response received, they sent a formal Judicial Review Pre-action Protocol Letter to GMP and MCC, threatening legal action. It was not until 14 July 2023 that they received a short response to their claim from GMP.


There is something about enabling children to be children. There is power in putting pen to paper.”

SMK Awards 2024 Judge

There is something about enabling children to be children. There is power in putting pen to paper.”

SMK Awards 2024 Judge

The Change

In summary, the response stated that GMP did not accept liability regarding claims of discrimination, but they would also not be sending banning letters that year. They also noted that, as no letters would be sent, Kids of Colour had no letters to take legal action against. Nor could they take legal action against past letters because the allowed time frame would have elapsed.

The response told them all they needed to know and was consistent with what they had been advised: that GMP were acting unlawfully and hiding from scrutiny.

The campaign felt that if GMP cared about being transparent with communities, and were committed to anti-discriminatory practice, they would want to show that their actions to date were lawful, but they chose not to.

The campaign believes that, given GMP had been sending these letters since 2006, the policies and practices they used to ensure lawfulness should be readily available and easy to share: GMP chose not to.

The campaign makes clear that they did not stop the letters through any legal outcome, rather the threat of one, so GMP were still entitled to send letters if they wished. But for some reason, despite this practice being their norm, this year, in the face of scrutiny, they chose not to…


The Future

Kids of Colour say they will continue to advocate for young people of colour and their communities and act against discriminative practise, as part of wider movement building, building local community resistance, and if necessary, taking legal action.

Who else was involved?