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'I've been mistaken for a prisoner', says Met BPA chair

SPEAKING OUT: Det Sgt Janet Hills, chair, Metropolitan Black Police Association (MetBPA)

THE CHAIR of the Metropolitan Police’s Black Police Association has revealed that she has been mistaken for a prisoner many times throughout her career.

Det Sgt Janet Hills made the statements at the Home Affairs committee inquiry to mark the 20th anniversary of the Macpherson report into the police’s handling of the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Speaking to the committee members, Hills said: “It’s difficult for officers to come to work with their authentic self. It almost feels like you have to leave who you are. Within the organisation, I have many a time been mistaken in the custody suite as being the prisoner standing alongside the prisoner that I have arrested.”

She also highlighted the difficulties black officers had when it comes to progressing through the ranks, something which they must obtain permission from their line manager to apply for.

Hills said she believed the requirement should be removed and highlighted it as one of a number of barriers black officers face in seeking and securing promotions.

She also pointed to the high dismissal rate of black African Caribbean and Asian officers, which is around 40 per cent, and internal racism as other challenges.

“Racism doesn’t come in the forms that we expect it to. It’s not name-calling anymore, it’s quite covert and undercurrent so part of the issue is the organisation can’t define that so it can’t address those issues so officers are going through it alone," she said.

Hills spoke on a panel alongside former police officer and founding member of the Met BPA Bevan Powell, Sgt Tola Munro, National Black Police Association and Insp Mustafa Mohammed, QPM, president of the National Association of Muslim Police earlier today.

STEPHEN LAWRENCE LEGACY

Before Hills, Baroness Lawrence gave evidence at the committee. Lawrence spoke about her relationship with the police, and said she “always had a problem with how the police and the justice system dealt with us as a family and continue to do that”.

Lawrence shared her thoughts on Stephen's legacy how the recommendations of the Macpherson report had been received by those who they were aimed at.

“When things are not made mandatory it allows people to accept or not to accept, it allows people to take what they want to take out of it and leave other bits out,” she said.

She added: “In the past how many years I’ve not heard the government mention the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, the Macpherson report, none of that has been mentioned, if say a committee like this didn’t decide to look at it to mark the 20 years coming up on the 24th February...I think it’s business as usual and at the same time people in the public are still suffering from what we as a family went through back in ‘93.”

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