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A faithful look at race relations inside the Met?

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Guy Smith | 16:12 UK time, Thursday, 8 July 2010

Group of police officers

Eighty-three pages. More than 18 months. £150,000 = "The Met is not institutionally racist."

That's one of the main findings from an independent review into race and faith in the Metropolitan Police.

Clearly there's more. Nine recommendations on how the Met can better recruit, keep and progress Black and Ethnic Minority officers.

Yet what's interesting is how long it's taken to reach its conclusions.

And why was the report, heralded as a major piece of work, released at 6pm on the fifth anniversary of the London bombings?

Race campaigner Lee Jasper has accused London's Mayor Boris Johnson of attempting to "bury bad news."

We also repeatedly asked for an interview with the report authors, namely the chair of the inquiry panel Cindy Butts, who is a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

None were forthcoming.

So what did they find?

The question they asked themselves was:

"Have we discovered a wholly dysfunctional, institutionally racist organisation, riddled with conscious and unconscious bias and prejudice?

"No, unquestionably we have not."

However, the report continues:

"We have found a number of examples of poor processes and practice which give rise to perceived, and at times real, discrimination."

You may remember the history behind all this.

In 2008, Britain's most senior Asian officer Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur was so incensed by his alleged treatment, he went public against his boss, the then Commissioner Sir Ian Blair.

Mr Ghaffur threatened a potentially embarrassing employment tribunal.

It was settled out of court for a substantial amount of money. He retired after 34 years service. Mr Blair followed shortly afterwards.

This saga was one of the catalysts for the latest inquiry, which Boris Johnson commissioned in October 2008.

It comes more than 10 years after the Macpherson report into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The three-strong independent panel heard "sad and disturbing" accounts from black and ethnic minority officers, some of whom had been "unfairly treated and marginalised."

They highlighted how statistics suggested white men were more likely to be promoted and stood less chance of being disciplined.

In a radical move, they suggested that people should be allowed to join the police at higher ranks than constable.

And they called for the Met to build better links with staff associations.

Well, no surprises there.

Two years ago the Met Black Police Association (Met BPA) issued a statement of no-confidence in how the Met treated its BME staff.

They imposed a boycott of recruitment of potential BME applicants, which was only lifted in January.

The Met BPA reaction to the review is this:

"It indicates the lack of understanding of racism and institutional racism and we believe that it is inappropriate to remove the term without the support of the Black and minority staff and communities in which the term refers."

The Met Police Authority has just told me the reason the report was published on the 7/7 anniversary was due to "diary commitments."

A statement reads:

"We challenge the assumption that it is 'bad news' In our view it is very good news and a positive step forward, indicated by the presence at the event of a number of influential partners, such as HMIC, IPCC, Doreen Lawrence, the Met BPA, other staff associations and Met officers. In fact bringing all those diverse people together seemed appropriate on a day when we commemorate the 52 Londoners that died in the 7/7 bombings."

Footnote: one of the panel members Bob Purkiss stood down from the inquiry in protest at a decision to bring in MPA officials to write the final draft. He apparently believed it threatened its impartiality.

So is it a good idea to allow high fliers to join the police without first being a bobby on the beat?

And was the timing of the publication of this report reasonable? What are your views?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Have just had the "pleasure" of seeing Lee Jasper on "the big question"
    INterupting a lady who referred to him as a gentleman. My names Lee Jasper he roared. His name should be aggressive pig. He is as much an arrogant racist as Nick Griffin. He should be kept away from all politics. He is a disgrace

 

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