Sajid Javid has said UK police forces “still have a way to go” to tackle racism as Black Lives Matter protests continue around Britain over the weekend.
The former chancellor penned an article in The Sunday Times in which he said that although “Britain is not the United States”, there is still work to be done to stamp out racism throughout society.
Thousands of people have been protesting over the past week since the death of George Floyd, a black man, in the US at the hands of police officers.
Further marches are planned in London, Bristol, Glasgow and Edinburgh on Sunday after some demonstrations descended into violent clashes between police and protesters on Saturday.
“The murder of Stephen Lawrence and adoption of the Macpherson Report, to cite one example, brought about real progress in tackling racial prejudice and discrimination in police forces up and down the country,” Javid wrote.
“That said, there is greater disproportionality in the number of black people in prisons here than in the United States, and while the abuse hurled at our officers is unacceptable, in some ways our police service still has a way to go - as do we all.”
Read more: Police in central London wrestle BLM protester to ground after he "kicked out at officer"
Javid claimed that the government should take the lead in addressing societal inequality, adding that the prime minister “cares deeply” about the issue.
The 50-year-old Conservative MP for Bromsgrove said racism can occur anywhere in the world, adding that a "new ambition" was needed to "break down barriers" in Britain.
Four people were arrested in London on Saturday as trouble flared following a peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Scuffles broke out when missiles were thrown at officers wearing protective gear, with mounted police called in to drive some of the demonstrators back along Whitehall.
Video footage appeared to show an officer colliding with a traffic light before their horse ran through a crowd of protesters, sending them scattering.
The Metropolitan Police later confirmed a female officer fell from the horse and had been taken to hospital. Her injuries are not life-threatening.
Glass and plastic bottles were thrown towards officers along with flares, while graffiti was daubed on nearby buildings, including the Cabinet Office, and a small "BLM" motif was painted on the Cenotaph.
Home secretary Priti Patel said violence towards police at protests was "completely unacceptable" and gave officers her "full support in tackling disorderly behaviour".