How can a black officer with 36 years of unblemished service end up on a sex offender’s register?

As Robyn Williams rose through the ranks from constable to superintendent, the Met has kept looking for reasons to discredit her, writes Tola Munro, president of the National Black Police Association

ROSE THROUGH THE RANKS: Robyn Williams inspects new recruits during the Metropolitan Police Service's passing-out parade

A PROUD black female Metropolitan police officer, her uniform adorned with medals, shows off police trainees to the Asian heritage mayor of her city, London – one of the most diverse cities in Western Europe.

This is Robyn Williams who for more than 30 years served the communities of Nottinghamshire, London and beyond. She has drawn public confidence for her work with the survivors and families of the Grenfell tragedy.

Unfortunately, as Robyn rose through the ranks from constable to superintendent, the Met has kept looking for reasons to discredit her exemplary service and success as a female black senior officer. She has this in common with other black, Asian and ethnic minority officers; it is an indicator of institutional racism.

“Parts of the Metropolitan Police Service remain stubbornly institutionally racist”

How can a black female police officer after 36 years of unblemished service end up on a sex offender’s register? How have her employers summarily dismissed her?

The Met is dysfunctional, it is trying to recruit more black, Asian and ethnic minority officers, while at the same time appearing to send a clear message to London’s BAME communities: “You are not welcome in the Met, will never be one of us and will never lead us”.

This message comes just as prime minister Boris Johnson has invested in 20,000 more police officers.

Last year in my evidence as president of the National Black Police Association to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s (HASC) latest Macpherson enquiry, I said that parts of the Metropolitan Police Service remained stubbornly institutionally racist.

“I am left asking of Robyn’s case, is it because she’s black and a female?”

Dr Neville Lawrence, father of the murdered Stephen Lawrence, echoed my considered view. The Met has had ample opportunities since his son’s death in 1993 and Macpherson’s report in 1999 to show it has changed – the current commissioner denied to the same HASC enquiry that her force was institutionally racist, but she has forgotten that in 2003, when she was head of their diversity directorate she confessed her force would always be institutionally racist.

And here is the evidence: in the lack of discretion that meant our member was treated differently, the only one of 17 recipients of that indecent image who didn’t view it; the only one investigated and charged with a constant presumption that she must have lied when the evidence, agreed by the jury, was that she did not; and now an internal kangaroo court that alleges a lack of truthfulness that was never proven in criminal court.

I absolutely reject the Met’s special case hearing, as have white, black and brown people from all four corners of the UK who have expressed their horror at this case.

When a white, male police and crime commissioner has recently been found to have held multiple images of indecent nature for thirteen years without recourse, I am left asking of Robyn’s case, is it because she’s black and a female?

Tola Munro is the president of the National Black Police Association.

Comments Form


  1. | Nile Mckenzie-Clark

    Yes it is institutionally racist. You only need to look into the case of police firearms officer Carol Howard. What they did after she had sued them and won.

    Thankfully she didn’t take their crap and walked away with an unblemished disciplinary.

    Had she stayed. They most certainly would have targeted her just like Robyn and just like asian officer PC Irshad Kemal.


  2. | Kelvin Brookbank

    The outcome is unnecessarily harsh and certain details of the case should be highlighted:

    1. Williams received the file from a third party (she didn’t request, seek or download it).
    2. She didn’t even view its content – a fact accepted by the Court.
    3. She condemned the actions of the sender, her sister (a Social Worker no less) and accepted naivety on her part when questioned.

    The UK police force is absolutely littered with cases of *actual* sexually-related gross misconduct from white, male staff regarding illegal image storage and paedophilic conduct – this was clearly never such a case.

    The Met were seemingly falling over themselves in the rush to name, shame and dismiss this woman. And the added indignity of making her complete 200 hours community service? It beggars belief.

    It’s difficult not to conclude that prejudice was a factor from the start. I imagine most people will see that, although that’ll be of little comfort to Williams, sadly.


  3. | Desiree Lillian Lowe

    I’m a serving police officer I was born in UK parents from West Indies and can confirm that we all
    Have a terrible time the Met are run by racists and I have always had to
    Work harder than the white police officers luckily they have not been able to
    Cause so much trouble for me as I do
    My job well and they know that so I have had my battles but it’s a question of survival to keep your job because of the colour of your skin


  4. | Shaka Yesufu

    It is not only the Metropolitan Police Service that is institutionally racist . Most of the constabularies are more racist than the London Metropolitan Police . In my days as a police constable at Hertfotdshire constabulary where I had a direct experience of crude racism from 1997. – 2001.
    The British society creates an enabling status quo that it okay to mistreat black people as sub human beings. People from the African continent are treated very badly, carribean , Indian , Pakistani to mention but a few. Can the U.K. Due to colonial past and atrocities ever treat the constructed other as equals?
    Please let me know when get to this level of co- existence. Racial equality in Britain is a myth and my academic mentor Professor Paul Gilroy understands my arguments perhaps more better as he rightly informed why there ain’t no black in the Union Jack?
    Our lived shared experiences of racism reveals the British hypocrisy on race.
    It is hoped that the future generations of black British did live in perpetual self denial as their fathers and mothers did.
    They stand and defend who they are identity wise and refuse to be treated as inferior beings. Must never be apologetic for being born black but see as a source of Pride .
    Greetings from afar from the continent and cradle of human civilization.


    • | Joshua

      I’d just like to say that this treatment of black and asian police officers is completely unacceptable and needs to be stamped out with consequences that others will remember. There’s no place for it and it angers me greatly.

      I am white, a Christian and married to a black woman and I will never be joined with any group that treats any person as sub-human. We are all equal before God and I would stand up for anyone being treated badly.

      To any officer being treated badly – expose it, fight it and never ever give in. Retain your dignity and let them shame themselves. Ghandi did this – and embarrassed the British into leaving India. Let’s hope your strength and humility can do the same.

      The only other thing I’d like to say is that comment about ‘There ain’t no black in the union jack’ is just a snappy phrase but not indicative of the way the British really are. Sorry for the ones that have incited you to think this way – but tarring us all with the same brush would simply be making you guilty of the very thing we are accused of.


  5. | Karolin Melba

    I was recommended this web site via my cousin. I am now not positive whether or not this submit is written through him as nobody else recognise such detailed about my difficulty. You’re wonderful! Thanks!


  6. | Chaka Artwell

    Until England’s African, Caribbean and Dual-heritage Subjects create a self-funded political; historical, cultural and theological Union specifically to defend: protect and promote issues of concern to England’s African-skinned Subjects, the “institutional racism” common in England’s Publicly funded institutions will remain unvanquished.
    England’s African-skinned people must create a Union to protect ourselves; our children, our historical contribution to the English Empire and our members who gain a public profile such as Mr Marc Wadsworth and Ms Jackie Walker, who has been thrown out of the Labour Party for challenging the Labour Part’s racism and Robyn Williams; whose long and successful career in the Metropolitan Police has been destroyed.
    Chaka Artwell; Secretary: Oxford African Caribbean Conversation.


  7. | Rita

    Im a now ex serving polive officer who was forced to resign, and trust me its racist! The white male cops can break the law and most have and still keep their jobs.

    Trust me black people in the force are surviving at ever turrn I was shown I wasnt welcome in the force.


  8. | Bob Bee

    The problem is you have to prove intent with racial discrimination and no one is going to admit that. A huge majority of BAME police have been at the receiving end of some sort of unfair treatment, the problem is most are too afraid to speak up against it and god help you if you do. Even with clear evidence, that the only difference between you and your comparators,racism will still be rubbished,even though we know it still exists. The sad thing is , is that its so ingrained that it is acceptable even in 2020. A BAME officer makes an error mounting to a simple mistake and they end up with misconduct, a white officer does something mounting to gross misconduct and its classed as a mistake, with informal words of advice given, sad but true. Will it ever change, not as long as its still the old boys club in the SLT, playing golf while giving eachother their not so secret handshakes.


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