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Black officers: Police force is still racist

PAYING THEIR RESPECTS: (right to left) Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Superintendant Leroy Logan and Met BPA chairman Bevan Powell

DESPITE THE Macpherson Inquiry highlighting in its findings more than a decade ago a high level of institutional racism within the Met Police, the organisation representing black policemen and women say it is still prevalent today.

The Met’s Black Police Association said: “We still believe that the police service is institutionally racist.”

Its chairman, Bevan Powell, said: “Institutional racism is not about labelling individuals racists but rather police practice and procedures that bring about disproportionate outcomes for black and minority ethnic communities and police personnel."

The sounding of the alarm by the BPA coincides with the 20th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence’s murder on April 22.

A memorial, attended by senior police and politicians, was held in central London to reflect on the teenager’s legacy which includes changes to legislation following the investigation into his death in 1999.

The National Association for Black Police Officers also voiced its concern. Its president, Charles Chrichlow, said: “It is unacceptable that in the 21st Century less than five per cent of police officers in England and Wales are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds (BME).”

THREAT

They said the underrepresentation of BME officers presents a serious threat to modern day policing and the democratic nature of the service.

One suggestion was for the launch of a ‘direct entry’ route into the profession, which would give individuals a chance to join the force at the rank of superintendent or inspector to encourage diversity.

Crichlow added: “We support the concept of direct entry, but, with one caveat. It must bring about greater ethnic diversity and new thinking at the senior ranks within the police.


LOVING MOTHER: Doreen Lawrence at her son’s memorial

“British policing must adopt radical approaches across the service, if issues of race and diversity are to be successfully addressed.”

The NPBA said that stop and search continued to be a concern and the disproportionate numbers of black people being stopped and searched was damaging trust and confidence in the police.

StopWatch, a coalition of legal experts, community activists and civil society groups, expressed similar worries over the abuse of the powers.

INCREASE

Recent statistics shows there has been a significant increase in the use of stop and search over last decade, which peaked at 150,000 in 2008/09 – an increase of 2000 per cent over the preceding decade.

It was also discovered that black people are 37 times more likely to be stopped and searched under this provision than white people, the highest level of disparity ever recorded.

Commenting on the Stephen Lawrence murder, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The senseless killing of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 was a tragedy. It was also a moment that sparked monumental change in our society - change that has been brought about by the tireless efforts of Stephen’s family in challenging the police, Government and society to examine themselves and ask difficult questions.

“I believe that many of those questions have been answered: from improved community relations to more accountability in policing. Much has been achieved, but we know that more still needs to be done. We owe this to the memory of Stephen."

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