Metropolitan Police criticised after racism inquiry
- 6 April 2012
- From the section London
A senior police officer has joined criticism of Scotland Yard's record on racism, saying warnings have fallen on "deaf ears" for more than a decade.
Supt Leroy Logan, of the Black Police Association, said the Met needed to put racial issues "back on the agenda".
Two former senior Metropolitan Police officers have also criticised the force after eight officers were suspended over allegations of racism.
The force has said racist language is "abhorrent" and not tolerated.
In total, 18 officers and one civilian staff member are being investigated in relation to 10 claims of racism.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating the claims which include bullying, abuse and physical assault.
Three officers from Newham were suspended on Thursday while five other officers and one civilian member of staff had previously been suspended at various stages over the past year.
Supt Logan, who was a founder member of the National Black Police Association, said attitudes to race relations had recently deteriorated.
"Every year since 2001, the young people have been saying how they believe they are being dealt with disrespectfully, not shown enough dignity, casual racist comments were being used," he said.
"Like so many things, it lands on deaf ears until such a time as a free press - the media - get hold of it and forces people into action."
Supt Logan said the force needed to "get its act together" and "root out the bad boy cops".
"The issues haven't been reviewed effectively by external agencies, that's why we are getting these incidents," he said.
'Greater diversity needed'
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, told BBC Radio 4's The World at One that the force still did not have "sufficient black and Asian officers".
"One of the ways of challenging any aspect of the canteen culture is if they [officers] live and work together and are able to share histories with people of different colour."
Mr Vaz told the BBC News Channel that the IPCC would take some months to report back and a broader inquiry was needed.
"When there are cases of this kind they have to be dealt with immediately and they have to be dealt with properly - otherwise there is a public perception that people don't care," Mr Vaz said.
He suggested that another organisation, such as Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, should produce "some very clear and very decisive guidelines" for all the UK's police forces demonstrating a "no-tolerance attitude to racism and racist behaviour".
Mr Vaz added that the management of the Met was on the list of inquiries the committee was looking to carry out.
Mark Reckless, the Conservative MP for Rochester who is also on the Home Affairs committee, said: "It's quite wrong that we don't have any ethnic minorities at senior level."
He said although quotas were not helpful, he hoped elected commissioners would be able to look outside "the usual routes of clubs of senior officers" to recruit a greater diversity of people when they are introduced in November.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the allegations of racism needed to be taken "extremely seriously".
"The police must ensure there is zero tolerance of racism in their ranks, and must act fast to deal with any suggestion of racism that arises.
Ms Cooper said it was "vital for justice" that every community could be confident in the impartiality of the police.
Retired Flying Squad commander John O'Connor told BBC London that managers should have been pro-active after the force was accused in 1999 of "institutional racism" by the 1999Macpherson Inquiry.
The inquiry looked into the force's handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation
Mr O'Connor said after the force was "vilified" by the inquiry, checks and balances "should have been put in place".
"We need to find out why this is happening. It's no good having the deputy commissioner almost washing his hands and saying 'we won't put up with racism'.
"Well what are you doing about it? You need to do something.
"There are too many of these incidents for it to be brushed under the carpet and I think there needs to be more research."
On Thursday, Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey said he was reassured that of the 10 cases which have been referred to the IPCC, six came to light after other officers raised concerns.
He said of the force's 50,000 staff, the "vast majority act with the professionalism and high standards we expect".
"I will always want to work in an organisation where someone who believes they've seen unacceptable behaviour feels they can challenge it and report it - knowing action will be taken, as it has been in these cases and as it will be whenever it occurs.
"The Met does not tolerate racism."